Wednesday, November 27, 2013

I'm taking some time off to enjoy the holiday with my family. Happy Thanksgiving!!

Monday, November 25, 2013

His Best Friend

He was so angry at me.

The hot tears spilled from his eyes and down his red cheeks, and he angrily swiped at them with the back of his hand. 

Then he glared at me. 'I DON'T want to wear this COAT' he said, his voice unsteady and broken.

I tried my best to explain to him that because it's 30 degrees outside, a coat is actually a good choice, especially when one chooses to wear shorts and a tee shirt underneath. How he isn't freezing most days is beyond me. He's refusing to let summer go, I guess. 

'I love you' I told him as he slammed the door behind him, not looking back. 

I definitely did not see this coming so soon.

I turned to a wise friend for counsel. I was sad that he was so angry at me, but even more, I was frustrated at his unreasonable reaction. I was only trying to keep him safe, warm and protected. 

"His reaction to your good parenting is out of your control."

It was exactly what I needed to hear. 

Sometimes, in order to keep the peace and make everyone happy, I think I'm tempted to be my children's friend first and parent second. Sometimes it's hard to know that what you are about to do, the consequence you as the parent are about to enforce, or the decision you are about to make is not going to be the popular one. And not only will it not be the popular one, it is going to make someone upset with you. Maybe even so mad that they walk out of the house without looking back, tears streaming down their face.

My role as a parent is not to be my child's friend. It is to be their parent. To teach them how to grow up to be responsible, mature adults who make good decisions. It's not easy. And there are times when it's certainly not fun, or pleasant, or anything remotely close to having a good time.

It's easy for me to look at other parents and judge them, sometimes harshly, for the decisions they make. But I don't know the situation they are facing, and it's probably different from mine. There was a situation in the paper a few years ago, and some in my community were outraged. I don't remember all the details, but a mother had allowed her teenager to have a party in her house where there was heavy drinking, and several teens were passed out on the front lawn of this woman's house, and all the while she was there. It seemed at the very least incredibly irresponsible, and at the time I remember thinking 'I would NEVER do that.' I don't know this woman's situation. I don't even know her name. But to me, she was trying to be her teenager's best friends instead of making a responsible parenting choice. It seems pretty simple, pretty black and white. But as I think about it while I'm sitting here, maybe she didn't have wise friend to turn to when her son didn't want to wear his coat to school.

'It takes a village to raise a child.'

We've all heard that line before, haven't we? And it is so true. As parents, it's important to have a firm support system in place when things get tough. We need to be able to lean on each other when the going gets tough.

Long after the coat incident had passed, he was singing his little heart out to Sean Kingston's song "Fire Burning" (don't judge, it came on Pandora, and they heard it first at the skate center anyway), but instead of shawty dancing her booty off on the dance floor, his version went like this:

Somebody call 911!
Johnny's fire burning on the dance floor, whoa

 
And you know what? He didn't even know he was singing the wrong lyrics.
 
I'm so thankful for this child who challenges me, who makes me laugh until I cry, who steals my heart everyday with his sense of humor and his sparkling smile.

 
[Parents], do not provoke your children to anger by the way you treat them. Rather, bring them up with the discipline and instruction that comes from the Lord.
{ephesians 6:4}

Friday, November 22, 2013

Martini-Induced Chattiness Will Lead to No Good

Last night I got to go to a dinner supporting our local Boys and Girls Club. Some of the Club Kids performed (it was AWE-SOME!!), an inspirational speaker spoke, and I got to spend some time with my husband--and 306 other people, but really, you have to grab time when you can.

Somewhere in the middle of the dinner, I had to go to the ladies room--like really bad. My bladder was about to burst. But there was a speaker (several speakers, actually) and it felt rude to just get up and walk out, so I waited.

And waited.

And when the dinner was over, I made a beeline for that bathroom. Right behind me was a friend who apparently had the same dilemma during dinner. And when I came out of the restroom and faced the sink to wash my hands, I could see that she was behind me using the other set of sinks. Her back was turned to me, but there was no one else in the bathroom, so I said 'Ahh, I feel so much better.'

Now before I go on with this story, you must understand one thing about me. I'm a borderline introvert, someone who is fairly uncomfortable in large settings where I don't know anyone and who is not apt to say things such as 'Ahh, I feel so much better' in public restrooms. But last night there was an open bar, and I had one little martini. I don't drink liquor, like, ever, so an innocent little (tasty) martini turns me into a Chatty Kathy, which is fine unless you are Chatty Kathy in a public restroom.

So I say 'Ahh, I feel so much better' to my friend Michelle who is washing her hands at the row of sinks behind me. I know this is Michelle because I can see the back of her head in the mirror. And Michelle turns around to look at me and the look on her face is like 'WTH?' because it's not actually Michelle. It's a Michelle look-alike.

A Michelle look-alike who clearly doesn't understand why I would be addressing her in a public restroom, or saying--OUT LOUD--'Ahh, I feel so much better' after having just used the public restroom in the hotel.

So I look down quickly because 'I'm sorry I thought you were someone else' never crossed my mind, wiped the sink off with my paper towel because that's what we do when we are horrified, and sped out of that bathroom at 5.5 MPH (that's really fast when you're wearing stiletto heels, FYI) to my waiting husband, who obviously didn't know that his wife just mistook a perfect stranger for Michelle, who, by the way, was no where to be seen. Which is why, he would tell me, martinis are not so innocent.

google images

The moral of the story is this: do not address strangers that are friend look-alikes in public restrooms. Please, please do not voice your satisfaction at having just emptied your too-full bladder.

And do not assume that martinis are innocent, cute little drinks in a cute little glass.

I'm sticking to water from now on.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Through the Fog

Sometimes my brain feels foggy, either because I'm tired or overwhelmed, or any number of other reasons. Regardless of the reason, I've never seen any sort of fog as a positive. It limits what you can see and can be dangerous. But in her devotional Jesus Calling, Sarah Young puts a new spin on fog:

As you look at the day before you, you see a twisted, complicated path, with branches going off in all directions.  You wonder how you can possibly find your way through that maze. Then you remember the One who is with you always, holding you by your right hand. You recall His promise to guide you with His counsel, and you begin to relax. As you look again at the path ahead, you notice that a peaceful fog has settled over it, obscuring your view. You can see only a few steps in front of you, so you turn your attention more fully to Him and being to enjoy His Presence.
 
The fog is a protection for you, calling you back into the present moment.
There are actually mountains behind all that fog!
Fog limits your vision, obscuring entire mountains from view. What could those mountains represent in your life? The mountains in my life are the things I get most overwhelmed by: the when and how I am going to get it all done and the future-tense what ifs. When I start thinking in that direction, I anxiously try to peer into the future, planning my day and my future down to the very last detail. And in the process, I often lose focus on The One who can calm my anxiety, The One who is guiding me through my day, no matter how hectic.

Turning my focus back to Him and His peaceful presence doesn't change my to-do list, but it does change perspective.

And even through the fog, everything appears to be crystal clear.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Worst. Night. Ever.

I might be a touch dramatic. So? It felt like the absolute worst night ever in the moment. My daughter had lost it, my son was about to, and I felt like I had one of two options: find support, however that may look (turns out FB was a good, quick option) or go crazy myself.

Dealing with  my mom was, at times, like walking through a minefield. You never really knew exactly what would set her off, or when, or how. She was a yeller, a person who freely expressed exactly how upset she was at you. Loudly. Sometimes in your face. Things could get ugly fast, especially when I broke protocol and yelled back.

I decided long before I ever had kids that I would not yell at them, I would not use physical force against them--I would never be a minefield they had to walk through.

I just never anticipated how quickly my levels would rise to Enough when my kids broke their own protocol and acted out.

Wild. Like caged animals.

I knew last night that this house was about to go down, and I was on board and going down with the ship. And it was sinking fast. There was no back-up, no life preserver, no Good Samaritan to stop us all from falling apart.

Two thoughts crossed my mind: when I don't know what else to do, my gut instinct is to yell. To scream. To fall apart myself. And I don't know what else to do.

Nothing gives better perspective than hindsight, and I've had enough moments where I have fallen apart to know that I don't want to have a repeat.

So I prayed.

I don't even know what I prayed for. I'm sure it wasn't a nice, well-rounded, fully thought out preacher-type prayer. There was no time. This prayer was like an SOS, a Help! I don't know what to do but I'm close to doing something I'll regret later unless You intervene NOW!

Short and to the point.

And my daughter kept right on screaming her head off and my son's face kept on getting a darker shade of red.

But I was strangely calm. Composed, even. Not happy. Definitely not amused. But calm.

If any of you lacks wisdom,
you should ask God,
who gives generously to all without finding fault,
and it will be given to you.
{james 1:5}

I was certainly lacking in wisdom last night. It felt like I was lacking a brain. I couldn't even think. All I wanted was for this particular opportunity for growth (as Lysa TerKuerst likes to put it) to go away and leave me alone. But where would we be if we didn't have those opportunities to grow and mature? Your opportunities may be at work, with friends, school, wherever. Mine just happened to be in the form of two small creatures who resembled wild beasts, forces to be reckoned with in their own right.

But He is bigger, He is stronger, and He is wiser than any circumstance we have to deal with.

The True Force to be Reckoned With.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Monday, November 18, 2013

The Girl With ADD

My kindergarten teacher said I talked too much during circle time.

My third grade teacher said I had difficulty paying attention.

My fifth grade teacher was upset because I got an F on my test--for the third time in a row. (She was also upset because I tried to forge my mom's signature so she wouldn't know about my bad grades.)

I was embarrassed. Ashamed. I didn't want to be labeled. I wanted to be normal, quick, like the other kids. I wanted to make A's. I didn't want my brain to twist and confuse the numbers in math so that 37 became 73. I didn't want to have to read out loud at a haltingly slow pace. I didn't want to be forgetful, or unorganized, or distractable.

The tests started. Tedious, one-on-one testing full of questions I didn't know the answer to.

'How do you spell the word WOMEN, Heather?'

My eight year old mind panicked. I have no idea. Wemen? Woman? Wemon?

My sixth grade teachers reported that I was unorganized, and when the report card showed only C's and D's, my eighth grade teacher recommended a doctor.

'Heather has Attention Deficit Disorder, but without the hyperactivity component.'

DISORDER

That's all I heard. Disorder. Unintelligent. Naive. Gullible.

I hated it.

Ritalin was the answer. The miracle pill. And it was, to some extent. Before,  I would look at every person who passed by the doorway, every person who sneezed or moved in their chair. After, I could focus. Stay on task. Be organized. Do my homework. And when the report card showed A's and B's instead of C's and D's, my mom was thrilled.

But I still felt like The Girl With ADD.

And I didn't want anybody to know. It was my secret, locked way down deep inside. I evaded questions about why I had to swallow that bitter white pill, tried to do it in private where no one could see. I acted like it didn't hurt my feelings when people called me names like gullible or idiot. I pretended like ADD was not a part of me. I didn't learn more about it, I checked out during IEP meetings.

But names like unorganized, distractable and unfocused followed me long into adulthood, except I took them on as my own. No one had to say it; I already had it written across my heart, in those familiar tracks in my head. I can't get it together. What is wrong with me?

I felt like God made a mistake, that I needed to be fixed.

"You're only as good as what the
last person said about you."
 
Only...what if the last person who said something about me was...me?
 
As a woman who lives in the Lord, the weight of my opinion (and everybody else's, too) of myself needs to be thrown off. I am made uniquely, in His image, just the way He wants me to be. And, according to a friend of mine, we shouldn't insult Him by constantly wanting to be different than how we were made, because each one of us is unique, out of every person that has ever walked the earth, is walking now, or will ever walk the earth.
 
While I know this in my head, it seems like my heart takes a very long time to absorb certain information, especially information about how unique I really am. I don't see my ADD as unique, I see it as a hindrance, a frustration, a stumbling block.
 
 
So I asked my friend this: So you learn you are unique. A treasure to God. Then? What do you do with that?
 
 
She replied:
 
You hold your head up high and revel in the glory that He created you just the way He wanted you to be.
 
Those things we think are imperfect?
 
They aren't to Him.
 
His plan for us is more than we ever could have imagined.
 
And that's all that really matters.

**Thank you Sally for your special input!!


Friday, November 15, 2013

Grievance Number WHAT?

'J. has a few issues he would like to speak with you about.'

The fact that my baby was using a spokesperson caught my attention.

'Grievance No. 1: J does not like the way you spoke to him before you left for work.'

I rolled my eyes. He hid behind his dad and peeked at me from around his leg.

'Grievance No. 2: J says that you would not allow him to get water while you were teaching.'

Really? I opened my mouth to defend myself, but The Spokesperson continued.

'Grievance No. 3: J does not like what we are having for dinner. But he'll just have to deal with that.'

Wait...what? The Sire does not like what we are having for dinner? Seriously?

Okay, so he doesn't like the fact that I yelled at him (and his sister)--because they were going to make me late for my class. And I did let him have water--I just told him he couldn't run across the front of the class where I was teaching fifteen times to get it. I felt totally justified in the way I had acted. Even so, I kinda-sorta apologized and gave him a hug. 'Do you forgive me?' I asked sweetly, knowing that he had to because he didn't have any reason to be mad in the first place. He looked up at me, eyebrows furrowed, mouth all pouty, eyes angry. And then he shook his head NO.

Um. Excuse me? You are going to stay mad even though I apologized when I didn't even have to?

Clearly, there was one of three things going on here:
A) Maybe he could sense that I wasn't being entirely sincere.
B) Maybe he really was that angry and needed a bit to cool off.
C) Maybe he was being completely unreasonable.

(I went with C last night).

I've been in his shoes before. Grievously offended, not ready to forgive, holding on to anger far longer than is necessary or healthy. Probably being completely unreasonable.

We all have those moments where we'll hold onto what's bothering us rather than forgive because forgiving might indicate that we're okay with the way someone treated us. That they were not wrong. That they can do it again.

I stay mad because I want people to know they can't treat me that way, that it's not okay, that I'm standing up for myself and what that person did was NOT OK. But in holding on to my anger, I've found that it eats away at my happiness. What is supposed to bring redemption to the situation only brings sadness. And eventually that sadness turns into resentment, depression and a heaviness of heart that not even a pill can fix. (I know this because I have been in precisely this situation, and Zoloft only masked my depression, it didn't fix it.)

"Generally, forgiveness is a decision to let go of resentment and thoughts of revenge. The act that hurt or offended you might always remain a part of your life, but forgiveness can lessen its grip on you and help you focus on other, positive parts of your life. Forgiveness can even lead to feelings of understanding, empathy and compassion for the one who hurt you.

Forgiveness doesn't mean that you deny the other person's responsibility for hurting you, and it doesn't minimize or justify the wrong. You can forgive the person without excusing the act. Forgiveness brings a kind of peace that helps you go on with life."
(Mayo Clinic Staff)

Later on, he came to me, sat down and gave me the biggest hug ever. I asked him if he was ready to forgive me, and he nodded his head yes and leaned his head on my shoulder.

Peace was written all over his face, telling me what I needed to know.

No spokesperson needed.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

The It-Factor

I was watching KUWTK (for those of you not in the know, that's short for Keeping Up With the Kardashians, which I've already admitted publicly that a) I watch religiously and b) I love Kim K. Don't judge) on E! when I saw scrolling across the bottom of the screen (all the up-to-the-minute celebrity gossip news. Side bar: I was listening to the radio the other day when the DJ came on and baited me with one of those lines like "Find out what this celebrity said and why--next" and for whatever reason I really wanted to find out what that particular celebrity had said and definitely wanted to know why--I don't even remember what it was about--but right when the guy was supposed to reveal this big news, my husband turned the car off! Just turned it off like he didn't give a rat's behind what this big news was, and I protested, like 'Um, hey!! I wanted to hear that news!!'--and my daughter, who had been sitting there the whole time repeated what I said, I guess she was curious, too--to which he replied 'That IS NOT NEWS, Heather. That's gossip.' And then I was a little embarrassed. A little. But I wish I could remember who he was talking about so I could look it up.) this news (or gossip, whichever you prefer):

Hairstylist Chris McMillian (you do know who that is, right?)
reveals picture of Jennifer Aniston's new bob
 
 
And luckily I had my phone right next to me so I could immediately look up Jennifer Aniston's new cut. Only because she has forever been my hair icon, not because I was immediately looking up celebrity gossip. But she's got that it-factor, that certian je ne sais pas that I don't, but I want to copy. So you won't have to go to all the effort of looking it up yourself, here you go:
 
google images
In middle school, I did many different things with my hair in an effort to be very cool. I had the perm, the bob, the short (that was part of my cool hip-hop phase, though), the long, the teased bangs. I felt like that if I had cool hair and cool clothes (which I didn't, just so you know, because my mother would not buy me Guess Jeans, and my whole life was ov-er) then maybe, just maybe, I could feel cool on the inside. The problem was, no matter how many cool clothes I had or didn't have, not matter how many perms I got and no matter how much make-up I wore, I never felt cool. I felt empty. And that's something that Guess Jeans could never have fixed (although I probably would have liked to try).
 
Part of the short-hair, hip-hop phase
 
The beginning of being very cool
 
I thought I was kindof over all that cool factor, the trying to fit it with the crowd, the pining after Guess Jeans, until I found myself stalking 'Jennifer Ansiton new bob' pictures online. And I thought about how most of the adults I know and talk to and see are just as insecure today as they were when they were in middle school. Our bodies grow and mature, reaching adulthood, yet our minds are still 15 years old and awkward. Which is maybe why I still hear adults telling 'cool' stories about how drunk they got in college 15 years ago (or last night--either way, not cool)? If we were all really okay with ourselves, just being who we really are, would we try so hard to be so cool? Maybe it's just me, and I'm still stuck in a place all by myself, but it seems like many of us are still trying to cover the insecurities we feel with a heavy blanket of hip confidence.
 
Obviously rollers are part of the it-factor
 
Ok, so here we go: I almost didn't share this picture but decided it was too funny not to. I DO NOT KNOW WHAT IS HAPPENING WITH THE HAIR IN THIS PICTURE. And whoever gave me this haircut should have their licence revoked.
I've searched for confidence in different places: my appearance, my possessions, my kids, my husband, my friends, my church. But none of those things are able to give what I need. Appearance, well, it changes. Possessions are fleeting, the church is just a building, and my kids, my husband and my friends, they're human. They don't need the pressure of filling me up. It's too much to put on others, and people are destined to disappoint at some point. But what I did find was that God is able and willing to fill my heart to overflowing, giving me confidence and security that doesn't have to come from something as temporary as a number on a scale or a perm in my hair.
 
Clearly, you need sunglasses to be hip.
 
Or Guess Jeans.
 
 
Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion;
therefore I will wait for him.”
{lamentations 3:22-24}

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

I Don't Wanna Hurt

Recent events in my community involving those amongst the teenage set have caused my Internal Frightened Parent Alarm to start blaring. I feel my heart breaking for the parents involved, but more than that, and perhaps I might come across as selfish in this, but I project myself into that exact situation and imagine the scenario with myself and my kids. It's scary to think of the trouble that kids can get into, but even scarier to think of the consequences of the choices that they make. I often wonder how I can stress the importance of good decision making to them, and most of the time, I have no idea. I know it's important, but I'm afraid they won't listen to me.

There's that word again.

Afraid.

I am afraid. It's true. I'm afraid of what the future might hold, I'm afraid of my past decisions coming back to haunt me, and I'm afraid for how the choices I make now will affect future outcomes. But living in fear is no way to live at all.

When my kids were small, I went through a major bout with depression. As time passes, I have the benefit of looking back on that time, and I can see now how sad I really was. It affected everything, including my relationship with my babies. It makes me really, really, really sad, because I know I can't go back in time and change the way I was. When I started praying for God to heal me, I didn't know He would do more work in me than I'd ever imagined. He brought a joy I didn't know into my heart, and it has changed the way I interact with my family. But. I'm still afraid. I'm afraid for the time when my kids don't ask me to play horses with them in the front yard. I'm afraid for when they don't want to play silly games or even spend time with me. I'm afraid for their innocence to be stripped and for their peers to be a bigger influence than I am. So even though I once experienced that joy of the Holy Spirit working in my life, I've allowed it to be covered up by fear and worry, and even though He hasn't gone anywhere, I know I've turned my head away from His light, squinting at the shadows, trying to make images appear out of smoke.

I can't help but mentally put myself in the situations I've heard about. What if, what if, what if...it runs on the same loop in my head, becoming so familiar that I don't even fight it anymore. I care about my children, but the fear runs deeper than just that. When it's stripped down to the very core, the most basic fear is this: I don't want to hurt. I don't want to be sad. I don't want to have to deal with scary things. Because I'm not sure I can handle it. I don't wanna hurt, there's so much in this world to make me bleed sings Pearl Jam in their song Just Breathe, and I concur. Sometimes the world is too much to take.

Fear makes me turn inward, allowing the fear to consume me, and in doing so, life becomes unbearable. Scary. Anxiety-producing. Intimidating. Overwhelming.

It paralyzes me.

Sarah Young suggests to let the fears come, to let them surface, to pray about them, opening up to God about what is so scary and why (Jesus Calling). In the process of opening up to God and praying, I've found that I'm placing my fears on shoulders much broader and strong than my own, shoulders that can handle even my most alarming fears and worries. The ones about my past. And the future. And the here and now. And He takes those fears and replaces them with His Peace and Joy, allowing me to live life with Joy even in the most difficult circumstances instead of waiting for the sky to fall directly on my head.

google images

Let the beloved of the Lord rest secure in him,
for he shields him all day long,
and the one the Lord loves
rests between his shoulders.”
{deuteronomy 33:12}

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Time is Important. And Other Randomness.

Some days work out really well.

Some days don't.

Today, the timing didn't work out so well, and all I can say is a quick 'Hey!' before I'm tearing up that stretch of road between my house and the school again.

I used to get really upset and uptight about the timing of things. (I'm sorry--that's a total fabrication. I, to this very day and very minute, get uptight about the timing of things, as in, I don't like it when the timing doesn't work out, not as in I don't like to be late because we all know that being late is, like, in my blood. Much to some people's chagrin. They will remain nameless to protect their identity, but you know who you are, you haters of tardiness.)

ANYHOOOOOOOO...

I try to act all casual and stuff when I don't have time to do the things I want to do, but inside my pressure cooker top (you know the kind your grandma used to can her garden grown tomatoes and green beans with? Yuuuum! Of course, my sister hates green beans and never appreciated the canning of them, but back to the point ----->) is rattling and steaming. So while I'm trying to act all like whatever, my brain is working overtime trying to calm my sweaty armpits down. (I'm sorry again, was that TMI?)

Don't sweat the small stuff (tee-hee), they say.

So what's the point? Well, I don't have one. I have somewhere to be in approximately 31 minutes (that's real time, in actual Heather-time, I have all the time in the world, {wink}), I still have to get my children's rear ends in gear and maybe find something to eat. Oh, and then drive there. And instead of doing any of those things, I'm writing a whole bunch of nothings to you. You know what that's called? It's called I-really-wanted-to-blog-today-but-didn't-have-time-so-now-I'm-writing-a-whole-bunch-of-nothing-about-time-to-you. It might also be called PROCRASTINATION. But I'm sure you understand. You've been there, too, right?

Have a happy Tuesday evening!!

Monday, November 11, 2013

But What If...

If I had to come up with a list of things that I worry about, I think my kids would be near the top of the list.

I come from a long line of worriers, who passed down their wont for worry from generation to generation. Along with it came a penchant towards anxiety and a general sense of foreboding about the future. These same people also had a tendency to hold on to offenses, even small ones, and then take all those angry emotions and stuff them deep inside until they erupted like a volcano.

While I've tried to learn the value of positive thinking and talking about how I feel, I still have this propensity for worrying about--well, I think I worry about everything. But I especially worry about my kids, and if they isn't anything to worry about in the present moment, I will make something up.

I know what worry does physically and mentally. It can cause anxiety and stress, which each cause a myriad of physical issues, and none of them good (see this article on WebMD about the physical effects of worry). I also know that the Bible instructs us not to worry about anything (see this verse in Matthew about worry), but I can't seem to let it go.

And now it seems that I've passed down this generational tendency to my kids.

My son came home from school the other day with a sheet of paper, and on it was drawn several things that cause him anxiety--one of them being school. All he will say on the subject is that 'it's boooooooooring', but I know that something more is causing him angst. Maybe he can't put his finger on exactly what is bothering him, or maybe he just doesn't want to say, but in either case, I don't know exactly why school causes him anxiety. Which makes me worry.

While we were in North Carolina a few weekends ago, we had some time just the two of us, and I asked him why he worries. He didn't have a good answer. He also didn't have a good solution. I'm not good at memorizing verses, so I seldom have a Scripture verse at the ready, but I did tell him that it says in the Bible over and over again not to be afraid and not to worry. When he asked what I do when I'm scared or worried, I replied 'Well...I try to remember to pray.' Which is the truth because I do try, I'm just not always successful in my endeavors in that department.

Along the way on the trail we were walking on, it had grown overcast and had started to hail. A lot. I noticed that he had fallen behind a bit, and when I turned around, he was bent down on one knee, head bowed, hands folded. In prayer.

He jumped up, ready to go, and before I could be nosy and actually ask him what he was praying about, he supplied the information himself: 'I was praying that we wouldn't get wet, Mom.'

Well. That's all well and good, but it was hailing. And raining. In my mind, we were going to get wet.

And so I started to worry that his prayer wouldn't be answered and he would lose his faith quickly. So I started to pray, too, but not for the same thing.

I needed to pray for trust.

Trust that the seed of faith that had been planted would grow. Trust that God is stronger than my doubt and my worry. Trust that He loves them more than I do and ever will. (I also prayed that it really would stop raining on us, just to confirm everything.)

I have trouble letting go. I want to be in control. I worry, I fret, I get anxious and stressed. I look to made-up future events and worry over them as if they are certain to happen. The problem with this is that I often take God out of the picture, projecting myself into a future where I'm coping badly and I have no hope. But God is always present, and reminding myself that He will be with me in any situation and I will be able to cope diffuses the negativity and worried thoughts.

I don't believe in coincidence, but I do believe in the Divine. But I have to admit that when it stopped raining and hailing on us, when that big gray cloud that covered the whole sky blew over, when the bright blue skies--yes, cloudless bright blue skies were showing through the tops of the trees not even 5 minutes after he prayed, well, even I was a little surprised. My son didn't seem so surprised though.

After all, he had prayed.

Friday, November 8, 2013

FMF: Truth

I'm staring at this blinking cursor, wondering what I really know about Truth. Wondering if I really even know enough about Truth to write a five minute post about it.

The doorbell rings. It's the sweet little girl from across the street, peering anxiously through the sidelights on the front door, her hands tightly griping a folded piece of notebook paper. "I want to give this to A", she says, eyes bright with the anticipation of seeing my daughter open her carefully drawn artwork. "Ok", I say, trying to think how to delicately tell her that A had other friends over today--big girl friends, friends that probably wouldn't want to play the games a kindergartner would play. She followed me through the house to the basement, where we could hear the girls doing what girls do best--giggling, laughing, and carrying on. A met us on the steps, looking at me with that look. She handed over her precious gift, and as A unfolded the paper with it's pink hearts and green grass, I could tell she didn't want to say I can't play today.

"Can I stay and play?" Her eyes were downcast, her hands clasped at her chest, waiting.

We both knew the question would come, and as I tried to come up with a way to say no, A grabbed her hand and pulled her down the steps. No hesitation.

Truth. It was innocent. It was palpable. It was lovely and pure. It was poured out all over that sweet girl's pink hearts, a truth that came from her heart, a truth that said I love you and I'm glad you're my friend.

 
Linking up with Lisa Jo Baker today for Five Minute Friday. Join us!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

A Perfect Mess

Only God Almighty is perfect. I know this. 

So why do I keep trying so hard to take His place as The Perfect One?

It's so frustrating. You'd think if have given up by now, with thoughts like FINALLYNow I can relax, but instead, the desire to be perfect grows inside my heart, choking out Peace and Calm and replacing them with Anxiousness and Worry. 

I walked through the living room tonight and it began. I have a new rug in there, to match the walls that were painted earlier this year, but the couch that should go in there hadn't been purchased yet, making this perfectionist cringe every time I walk through. It's not perfect. It doesn't look right.  Same thing happens when I see dirty dishes in the sink, piles of laundry stacked in places they shouldn't be, and tennis shoes sitting by the steps rather than neatly (I'll actually take no-so-neatly at this point) placed in their proper spot. 

It's enough to make a person go mad, trying to keep up with the smallest details. It's like I'm stuck in the mud, weighed down by the muck but spinning my wheels faster (and sinking) just trying to get out. 

I look at myself, wild-eyed and harried as I rush from one thing to the next and want to scream Slow down! I'm not sure what I think I might lose if I do, but I haven't been able to give up the notion that I'm earning my keep and my place in Heaven by keeping things perfect--until it all starts to unravel like a cable-knit sweater. 

It's then, when things get unbalanced and out of my control, that I'll turn to God for help. If I could only remember to turn to Him beforehand, maybe it would turn out better. But maybe He wants me to see that things were never really mine to control in the first place. 

I have a way of seeing the world as mine: my life, my world, my way, and occasionally I invite God in for a visit--when I think about it. But I think I've got it a little bit backwards. He made the world (Genesis 1) and then added people. To fellowship. Commune. But things really got messed up when we started thinking we could do things our way instead of His. 

Most days, I'm not thinking about God first, then what step to take. I'm thinking about me first and anxiously wondering how in the world I'll get it all done. But as I spin my tires day after day (don't they say the true definition of insanity is repeating the same thing over and over again to the same frustrating end?), one thing is for sure: my way isn't working. 

His way is mercy and grace, where you don't have to earn your way into Heaven, you simply accept His grace. It's a beautiful, graceful statement of love and mercy, yet sometimes I reject it in favor of trying to earn something through perfection.

The way of grace and mercy, forgiveness and love--my heart is in desperate need of His healing balm, to remind me that my perfection isn't needed. 

I can finally let go. 


Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Life Is Good


The peace of being on vacation has given way to the chaos of that thing called real life.

Sometimes assimilation back into the real world can be a real...well, you fill in the blank there.

But vacation. This past weekend we whisked our kids off to a family-only (that is, just the four of us) respite in the mountains of North Carolina. Not only were the views absolutely breath-taking, but the time together was precious. Of course, none of us are without fault, and each of us certainly had our moments, like when my daughter freaked out a little because we were walking on a horse trail (that had lots of horses on it). She loves horses. From afar. But she's scared of them when they are so close that it feels like they might step on her. (Growing up a horse person, I feel a personal responsibility to fix this part of her so she will love horses as much as I do.) Or like when both my kids decided they, under no circumstances, were not going on a hike with my husband and me. And we had decided that we were absolutely going on said hike. And none of us were, under any circumstances, willing to negotiate. It was do or die. (The adults won, by the way.) But just because the kids had to go doesn't mean they had to be happy about it, so we had to have some discussion involving the words compromise and you can't always get what you want and being selfish and we're going on this hike and we will have fun.

Which we did. Go figure.

The cabin was super-cute, and decorated very tastefully, with one single exception:
When you are a cabin as cute as this one is, you don't need to overcompensate by adding a Crown Royale bottle as decor. It's not cute.
It also had wall heaters  that sounded like a freight train in every room, so the first night, I woke up every single time the heat came on. Which can certainly lead to a grumpy first day of vacation if a person isn't very, very careful.

We saw some gorgeous views, proving that God is a Master Artist:


We even visited an ancient arcade with the strangest game I've ever seen:


I have no words. Except odd.


We visited the charming Mast General Store:



Now that I'm back, assimilating to re-entry into The World, I've found that my body is present, but my mind is still running on North Carolina mountain time. Slow. Still. Quiet. Dreamy.

Life. Is. Good.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Unplugged

Monday, is that you?

So soon?

I'm unplugging from real life to spend some time with my family. It's been such a great weekend, I can hardly believe it's coming to an end! I'll be back to the real world soon, so meet me back here on Wednesday!