Tag Archive | motherhood

A little slack

I love nights like this. Well…I love hearing about nights like this.

You see, I came home from school and hit the ground running. (After I had been running all day.) Putting away groceries…homework…dinner for tonight and preparation for tomorrow’s slow cooker creation…two loads of laundry…lunches packed for tomorrow…bath night. It’s 8:30pm and I just sat down. Not bad for a four hour sprint. While I was elbow deep in after dinner KP, hubby took the kids and the dog for a walk around the block. When they returned- I sat down while my hubby told me a story.

I love stories like this. You know, the kind when you learn something about God from your kids and a knuckle-head dog? THAT kind of story. And from this Mama’s perspective- it makes my heart soar to hear these things come from my son. So I’ll share…

Hubby was giving our son a refresher course on walking the dog. Cooper loves to walk, but he gets a little excited sometimes. The many, many (…many, many, many…) rabbits in the neighborhood taunt him with every hop as he pulls on that leash and he can be quite a challenge- especially when the walk begins. I have no clue what breed he is, but Cooper is the kind of dog who has a very keen sense of smell. In fact, his sniffer completely takes over and his ears shut off altogether! We keep the leash short so Cooper is beside us. Yep, we walk the dog- we don’t allow him to walk us. If the leash is too short he gags and huffs and pulls- resulting in sore muscles for all so there must be balance.

This was the lesson that hubby was teaching tonight and our son did a great job. A half-mile later, the bells and whistles went off. Yes…our son had a lights-ON epiphany. He went on to explain how this leash thing is much like our walk with God. God doesn’t choke us. He doesn’t pull and tug and wrestle. He sets parameters and lets us know how to walk and then if we pull…wait…I want to get this right…”If we pull too hard and choke ourselves then it’s our own stupid fault”…or something close to that. ha ha ha

Ok…so not a perfect picture, but I love his insight.

Psalm 23 (KJV)

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.

He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.

He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.

Psalm 23 is what came to mind. The Lord leads…we need only follow.

CHOOSE to follow.

He is the GOOD Shepherd, but we can be some hard-headed and seriously stubborn sheep. A fickle flock! Green pastures…would I recognize one if I was laying in one? Still waters? Oh…look at that butterfly! Squirrel! We pull, wander, strain and grow weary as we wrestle against God. There are times when we wander because the grass looks greener and others when we walk in stride with the Spirit just as He leads us to do. I just love the picture that my son painted this evening. Comical, yet true.

Lord, you give me boundaries because you love me. Those boundaries give me the opportunity to walk closely with you…near and without fear. Forgive me for the times when I wrestle and strain instead of follow, obey and rest in You.

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The Real

While I am pretty “real” on this blog, I think there are times when I really need to diffuse the notion that things here are always filled with sun and blossoms. As a matter of fact, last week when I wrote that post about my son giving me a card of encouragement– I was quietly praying that the other shoe wouldn’t hit me in the head too hard when it was thrown. Yep. It never fails. You give praise, count a blessing…share with someone how great your kid is (eh hem)…and Satan will try to use that very thing to twist you up. I wished I had saved the text from my sister just 4 days ago that said something along the lines of being jealous that my son encourages me with God’s truth. My response to her was that I was going to hang on to that card and that moment for the day when his responses were not so encouraging. He’s a kid…my kid. It’s bound to happen. I just didn’t anticipate it so soon. ha ha.

So today is Mother’s Day, right? It was a great weekend. The kids played with friends, I had a date with hubby and then we went down to my parent’s house for a Mother’s Day/ Birthday combo. Wooo! But, there is this thing that causes contention in our home from time-to-time and that “thing” has been quietly rising up…twisting…turning…eroding.

VIDEO GAMES.

Our son loves them. He typically reads to earn his weekend video game play time, but lately we have all discovered that we enjoy playing Minecraft together as a family. What began as a parental investigation to see what he was playing, became FUN. It’s actually pretty relaxing to build and harvest, craft and create. And it’s even more fun to do together. The problem is, the more our son plays video games- the more he wants to play video games. His attitude was beginning to change and this weekend it all came to a head. Furthermore, hubby and I have been enjoying it, too and with the recent rainy snap in the weather we have been playing more often. It’s time we look forward to when that time could probably be better spent elsewhere. None the less- here we are. Something that is fun has turned into a stumbling block. We’ve been here before. Once we recognize the problem we reel it in, create boundaries and change our focus. Today we are taking steps to do that.

So here’s the “real” part I wanted to share with you. You have to know that I am a normal Mom with normal kids and an imperfect life just like everyone else. Here’s how Mother’s Day ended:

After taking games away from him this afternoon so he could focus on enjoying his real live cousins and other family members- he got salty. But, he got over it long enough to play…until we got in the car to go home. I thought I was clear that he would not be playing at all on the way home, but felt like he was repeating “Can I play yet?” instead of “Are we there yet?” all the way home… At which point we had a discussion on gratitude, contentment and true joy. If playing these things makes him miserable then I don’t want him to play. So when we have these discussions I try to give him room to respectfully give feedback, share feelings and ask questions so it’s not a one-sided lecture. (Trust me, I find it very easy to have a whole conversation by myself, but we’re working on communication and I need him to participate.) This is where things got “real”. On our hour-and-a-half hour trip home he told us exactly how he felt. We always get our way…we are taking away the one thing he really likes as a hobby…we play after he goes to bed and that’s not fair…we have our phones and we should have the same rules…and I (yep, me…Mom) drop him off at school and come home and only do laundry and play video games. As a matter of fact, he proceeded to tell me that the only thing I was getting for Mother’s Day was more laundry to do. He shared that it was also unfair that I got …let’s see, I want to get this right…” Why do you get two celebration days a year (birthday and Mother’s Day) and I only get one? That’s not fair either!” Ok. So his perspective is a little skewed, but OUCH.

I wanted to rip into him for his ungrateful attitude, but didn’t want to fall into an argument with a ten year old. Trying to keep emotion in check is hard at times like this. Even on a day when the pastor was preaching about God as our parental example. I responded with sharp truth followed by silence. Some discussions are best if left until tongues and heads cool off. I ended up in tears shortly after we got home…then he started crying because he knew my feelings were hurt. Then our daughter joined in on the tears simply because it was a long, fun weekend and she was tired.

Happy Mother’s Day.

The sermon today could not have been any more well placed. God has so much patience and mercy with us. While He is just, God is also faithful to forgive, slow to anger and abounding in love.

And he passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, “The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; Exodus 34:6-7

We really need to follow His lead when parenting our children. I fall short.

So this Mother’s Day, I am praying to be free of offense. To forgive and to use this as a teachable moment as well as a moment for me to learn. I will respond to the conviction of truth and will administer rebuke with love. I will be praying that I can lean into God as my husband and I try to follow His example. I will pray that He will strengthen me to lead by example.

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts.  Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.  Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads.  Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates. Deuteronomy 9:5-9

We will be having a gaming fast this week and will be looking for other ways to connect. And, of course, I will still be doing laundry because that is one of the many ways I love serving my family. That is a gift that I will happily accept.  I will be re-reading that card of encouragement that my son made for me because that was truth and encouragement that I needed last week- and still need this week.

And that, my friends, is the real.

 

Encouragement

This may very well be one of the shortest posts I have ever posted. During a moment when I am super discouraged…God sent my son to remind me of HIS Son.

I wonder if there is anyone else out there who needs this word of encouragement today. This is for YOU as much as it is for me.

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Diamonds indeed. Made beautiful under pressure.
P.S. He is ten. TEN!

Thank you, Lord.

To Train a Child

Spring has sprug and so has field trip season at school. One of the things I love about my job is the flexibility to chaperone on field trips and learn with my kids. Yes, being a Momma is a high calling and I try to rise to the occasion…as I load FIVE boys into my car for today’s adventure. Praise God for patience, a sense of humor and a sun-shiney beautiful day.

The focus today was seeds: how they grow, how pollination occurs, the parts of a plant, etc. It never ceases to amaze me how God made these plants and flowers and trees and the bugs and birds around them…coupled with wind and water…to all work together. It’s one big life-sustaining symbiotic symphony. After a short lesson with our enthusiastic and informative guide, we went for a walk and a scavenger hunt in the gardens.

This was not just an average garden. This place is known specifically for its magnificent topiaries. Ladew Gardens is a positively beautiful place to enjoy God’s creation and, also, the not-so-natural forms it can take in the hands of a Master Gardener.

This week we weeded the flower beds in the front of our home. I know first-hand what happens to a flower bed that is not attended to on a regular basis. While there are fields that are permitted to grow in a natural and wild manner, the shrubs flowers and plants at Ladew Gardens are constantly manicured, pruned, and trained. As they are sculpted with tender care, the topiaries take on the form of creatures and shapes and whimsical scenes. I wanted to share a few with you.

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While I could have taken in the sights all day (and plan to go back to do so), there is one particular practice that God placed front and center in my heart today.

Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it. Proverbs 22:6

In this vast garden, there were several visual pictures of just that….training.

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When a gardener trains a plant, they use a series of guide wires, sticks, ties and such to help the plant grow in a manner that is not natural. The above plants have been shaped in to patterns and designs with right angles that are not natural to the plant. This takes years of care, time, pruning, readjustment and patience. When I look at these beautiful images…these trained plants…I dwell on the job that God has given me in this home with our children.

Sin is natural. In Psalm 52:5 the psalmist says, “Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.” All throughout the scriptures it is clear that sin is our natural bent. It is natural for us to grow wild; deep inside we are still seeking the Son (or sun in the case of these plants). So the Master Gardener begins to prune…to run guide wires…to tie and cut…to trim and train. They still grow, but they grow in a manner in which they are carefully directed. Carefully guided. At times in the growth and molding of this beautiful creation,  a branch may shoot off the trellis and have to be tucked back into the fold- it’s bound to happen. But, upon maturity, these plants will reflect the design that the Master Gardener had carefully planned and lovingly manicured.

Lord, as I dwell on this beautiful example you have placed before me today, please bless our efforts to train our children up. I pray that when they are old, they will not depart from it.

 

Sour Power!

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I am a little apprehensive to brag about my kids. They’re not perfect…just as I am not perfect…and I don’t want to set them up for a great fall by placing them high up on a shelf or portraying them as such. But, there are times…the Lord blesses me through these kids and even gives a little affirmation that we’re doing alright at raising them. I am thankful for those moments.

Our son and daughter started at a new school this year and they are both really excelling- socially and academically. They are so different from each other. For him, the academics come easy and the social part is hard and she is just the opposite. She is in first grade and is friends with most kids in most grades. It just comes easy for her. Various experiences at this school are pushing our son out of his shell (I think maybe I need to go to school there, too. Maybe it would help me out! ha ha)  and it’s exciting to watch him bloom and grow. One of those experiences was last month. He had his first Science Fair!

You may remember the Science Fair from the days of your youth. They each have to pick something to report on, experiment on, or demonstrate and then present what they’ve learned and how they did it. Sitting on this side of the project…I now have a new appreciation for what my parents must have gone through. It was PAINFUL! I had to balance encouragement, pushing him, not doing it for him, and not getting to the point of frustration that would result in discouragement. MERCY. It was the most difficult and most draining experience I have had with our son to date. I understand why many parents just knock their kid out of the way and do it for them. It would be so much easier. But, where would that leave him? Yep…I had a tremendous growth experience in this, too.

The project he chose was the “lemon battery”. If you’ve never seen it, Google it for sure because it’s pretty cool. The acid in the lemon reacts with the zinc in a nail. Add some copper wire and you get a current that generates a small amount of electricity. FUN! So he decided to measure the electricity output of one lemon, then two hooked together …and so on. Then, when he was all done, he used five lemons hooked together to light a small string of low voltage LED lights. As I said, the project itself was fun- but, the preparation and education that went into it was a challenge. I had to lead him to videos that would explain the process on a level that he understands and could explain to others. I didn’t want him to just speak words…I wanted him to understand. This is a challenge and concern that runs deep in me- especially in his young walk as a Christian. I pray that for my children all the time- I want them to know the Lord, not the answers.

He did GREAT! He cut everything out, made graphs and mounted each piece while  I was like the paparazzi- taking pictures from a distance yet trying to give (push) him some direction. This was his finished project:

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Part of this project involved tying the experiment or demonstration to a Biblical correlation. He had to look at the project -or a component of the project- and write a short essay on how it relates to God or His character, creation or a Biblical principle. Once again, I had to resist handing him a bunch of scripture references and telling him what I thought…BAAAHHHH!!! I thought I’d crawl out of my skin. There is so much that could be drawn from this little lemon experiment. In my silence- our son came up with something beautiful.

PRAYER.

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Thank you, Lord.

Prayer. While he was in the midst of this project I was having some minor health issues. Pride presses on me to keep those issues to myself. Other people have problems of their own and much bigger than mine-  I don’t want to bug them to pray for me. So I pray -and rarely ask others to pray for me. In this process, God began to work on me…yep, through a fourth grade science project. Pride has to go. Prayer is a powerful thing and God is clear about praying with others in Jesus’ name….there is power in the name of Jesus. He wants us to link up and pray together and for each other. Pride blocks me from fellowship and from God directly.

I feel like this is an abrupt end to this post…but, I think I need to just let it sit here. Ponder and pray.

Lemonade anyone?

Lessons from the Littles: Shooting hoops

As I said in the last post…God has been using interactions with our kids to teach ME lately. This one comes from the bleachers. We are in the middle of Upward Basketball season. We have participated- and hubby has coached- in this program for the past four years and it is a tremendous blessing to our community. Our son is…well…not very athletically inclined. Like many kids these days he’d rather be curled up with a book (or more likely a video game) than running anywhere. Thankfully for him- he does not get that choice. While we really try not to push them into things they absolutely hate, we do require some kind of sport with physical activity in the Winter months to keep them from…well, getting like me. (There…that’s my brutal self deprecating honesty for the day.) He didn’t want to do basketball again this season, but he couldn’t come up with another option so here we are. PRAISE THE LORD!

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This year, my hubby decided to coach our daughter instead of our son. Let’s just say there is some value in stepping back for a moment to invite another person in to give direction. While hubby has voiced that it hurts a little to see our son excel under the direction of another…we are both super excited at the change in our boy this year. And that’s not just a skill thing either! He is really getting it! In the years past he walked, skipped, sauntered…and stood…and dribbled…and stood…and dribbled…and let the clock run out while he did it. It was frustrating to watch, but we encouraged him every step of the way.  I don’t know if he was storing all of that knowledge up or if he is a little more coordinated this year…maybe a combination of both AND the unfamiliar voice telling him what to do. WOW. Each week he is learning and using a new skill. He is running. They are keeping him in longer. And his confidence is soaring! During his last game, he made 3 baskets and ran the whole time. WITH A SMILE.

One of the things I noticed in weeks past; someone on the opposing team would shoot the ball and my son’s team would rebound and run it up the court. Our son would run to that basket and just stand under it…waiting for the rebound. Never mind his team players scrambling for position and looking for someone…anyone…to be open. So the following week in practice, the coach focused on offensive and defensive positioning. He talked to them about running around to PLACE themselves in the best spot to receive the ball. That means positioning and re-positioning …going around obstacles and the people who are trying to keep you from that ball. Defensively, it means positioning yourself in a spot that will hinder the “enemy” and guard your teammate. Do you already see where I am going with this?

As I prayed on Tuesday, I was throwing a bit of a pity party. Stinking thinking. The comparison game is not a good one. I should be focused on the ONE…not the other ones. When I look down at my feet and the feet of those around me, I am not focused on God or the ministry that HE has laid out before me – and am certainly not walking (or sprinting) forward in victory.

Positioning.

There are times when I wait for the ball. Standing still. Not rushing to get it and not really knowing where to be. I want to shoot. I want to score- not to be known, but to make Jesus’ name known to others around me. I want to reach others and share God’s love. I want to serve and share. I want to link up and be part of God’s team. I want to hear “Well done, good and faithful servant.” -just to be affirmed that I am being obedient. I need to move…eye always on the ball…placing myself in a position to act- always. Hands up. Ready to catch, pass, block. Where do I stand? Am I blocking Satan’s attacks for my friends and family? Praying for them? Interceding when they seek godly counsel? Stepping in and saying “No…look at HIM!”?  Do I hear the coach? Do I listen? Do I respond? Am I doing anything at all or just sitting on the bench?

(sigh)

Good news is- I am not on the bench, but there have been times when I was tempted to sit down. Especially as I watch other players shoot one after another…nothing but net…and wonder if I am needed; if I have a purpose at all. I am so thankful for the little team in this home I have been given to train up in the way they should go. The body of Christ…we are the body and a hand cannot be a foot. We all can’t be guards at the same time…offense AND defense are required. TEAM work all under the direction and in obedience to THE ONE coach. We all need good teammates, too. On Tuesday, one of my valued teammates blocked a shot, passed me the ball and pointed me in the right direction. Words of wisdom from a woman who is growing in Christ…

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Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.  Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

Hebrews 12:1-3

Thank you Lord for your faithful and wise instruction. Always when I need it. Thank you for teammates who love and care and communicate truth. I pray that I will be one.

***6:48 am Friday (48 minutes after I posted this )…a reminder on the radio. “Grace”…it’s not about anything that I do, it’s about what Christ DID. A word from the Lord…focus on THAT ball. I am overwhelmed!