October 27, 2011

cows are not Holy

I like to think I'm mellowing as I age, and in some ways, I am. Things don't agitate me as much as they did when I was younger and my feathers aren't as easily ruffled. Sometimes I look inside and I actually think, (with a contented sigh) ahhh, you are finally softening...you are becoming a Jane Bennet sort of person; someone who is soft, gentle, sweet, quiet, feminine....

But then? Then something comes along that ruffles not only my feathers but my heart and soul as well and Jane disappears. Completely.

Take the other night for example. Our house was full of people; we were relaxed, laughing, teasing each other and talking about anything and everything. Suddenly someone in the room started to blurt out: "Holy C....!"

When I heard, that something inside me snapped. I'm sorry if I upset you by typing a not-so-nice word here but crap is not holy. Cows are not holy. Mackerel are not holy. It deeply offends me and hurts my heart when I hear the word "holy" used in connection with those words- I let that speaker know it and, unfortunately, I was not quiet or sweet or gentle about it.

There is only one Being who is Holy and I don't think describing cows, fish, or bodily functions with the same word the bible uses to describe Him pleases His heart.

I love the way Webster's 1828 dictionary defines Holy:

HO'LY, a.

1. Properly, whole, entire or perfect, in a moral sense. Hence, pure in heart, temper or dispositions; free from sin and sinful affections. Applied to the Supreme Being, holy signifies perfectly pure, immaculate and complete in moral character;

Have we as Christians become so corrupt, so cold, so lethargic, that we are willing to ignore the power of that word and link it to cows?? To crap? To fish?

Have we lost the sense of who God is? His purity? His perfection? His righteousness? Do we not care that He died a horrible, horrible death to make us Holy as well? Because He loves us?

He is Holy and He wants us Holy. It seems to me, when we take the word Holy lightly and use it to describe anything other than God, we are practically slapping Jesus in the face. We're telling Him His life on earth, His horrendous death and His endless love for us are insignificant.

He is so Holy that for all, all, all of eternity it is going to be broadcast day and night for forever:

Each of the four living creatures had six wings and was covered with eyes all around, even under its wings. Day and night they never stop saying: " 'Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty,' who was, and is, and is to come."
Revelation 4:8

October 25, 2011

so let it be written, so let it be done

Does God ever speak to your heart? Do you ever hear His still, quiet voice shouting at you from somewhere deep inside telling you to do something you may or may not want to do?

He did that to me when I was 19. He told me to homeschool my future children.

OK-wait. Please don't leave because you think that's what this post is about. It is, but it isn't. And please don't leave because you think I'm crazy. God does speak to our hearts.

When He told me to homeschool I was thrilled. I've always loved babies and children and the thought of being able to teach my own? At home? I was so excited I could hardly wait.

Finally the day came and my oldest son was ready for kindergarten. No longer was I purely excited, I was "just a tad" nervous. The reality of what I was about to do hit me and I realized I could completely mess up this boy's entire life. So, we decided to take it one year at a time. Kindergarten. I could handle that. A B C's and 1 2 3's. No problem. I knew those by heart.

Then first grade. Well, I know how to read and I can add 2 +2, so off we went and again, no problem. We managed to make it through the first several years taking it one year at a time. I had no idea I was in it for the long haul and in my mind I could always back out if it got too hard.

Well, when that boy hit 8th or 9th grade it not only got too hard for me to teach him, it was impossible. I could not do it. Literally. For reasons that don't need exploring at this juncture, (one of my favorite quotes, btw :-) ) I think I only have about a 7th grade education. Don't splutter at me. I'm dead serious. There is no way I could pass a college entrance exam. I've never learned algebra, never learned chemistry, I couldn't diagram a sentence if you put a gun to my head, and here's the really embarrassing one, I actually flunked high school biology.

So, when our son hit high school and God was still whispering to my heart, homeschool this boy...keep going....obey me....I almost lost it. I was no longer just a tad nervous. I was terrified. I had visions of my son standing on a street corner holding a sign that said, "Please feed me. My mom homeschooled me."

In a nutshell, our sons ended up teaching themselves throughout high school. I handed them the books and said, "learn all this." My heart was overwhelmed-I felt so guilty. It was one of the hardest things I've ever had to do....but, I knew that I knew that I knew this was what God wanted.

As our sons struggled along, I did what I could. I encouraged them. I prayed for them. I baked cookies for them. I prayed for them. I told them they could do it. I prayed for them. I reminded God over and over again that this was His problem. They were His problem. I dumped our sons in His lap and stepped back, asking Him to see them through.

In all honesty, I was not the Queen of Faith. I cried. I acquired many grey hairs. But, in the end? In the end we all learned that God is faithful to finish what He starts in us. He is faithful to see us through something He tells us to do because, after all, He wants it done.

Our sons not only learned the curriculum. They learned how to study. They learned how to research. They learned how to persevere when something is overwhelming.

Our oldest son said this experience prepared him for college in a way nothing else could. College professors don't hold hands with their students all the way through. They hand them the curriculum and say, "learn all this." It's up to the students to study; to research; to persevere.

To make a long story short, we did it. Actually God did it, and that's what this post is about. God's faithfulness. His doing what He told us to do when He knew it was something we could only do if He did it.

October 24, 2011

i know you believe you understand what you think i said, but i'm not sure you realize that what you heard is not what i meant

Do you have a favorite clothing item you wouldn't give up for all the fish 'n chips in England?

A few months ago my husband and I drove to town for some un-remembered, unrelated-to-this-story reason. As the miles passed under the tires I started thinking about the man sitting next to me and what he means to me.
"Mike, you are like a favorite, ratty old sweater, or my favorite pair of sneakers."

For some reason, he took that as an insult. I meant it as the highest compliment a wife could pay her husband and he took it wrong. He was so perturbed he wouldn't even listen to my explanation. So, since he won't listen to me, I've decided to explain it to you; maybe you'll understand?

Let's start with the favorite, ratty old sweater. I don't have one. But, I do have a favorite ratty old jacket. 19 years ago we went to Michigan for a family reunion/camping trip. We left here on a steamy hot July morning and headed north. The further north we drove the cooler it got. By the time we got to Michigan it was downright cold. And, guess what I hadn't packed? So, we stopped somewhere so I could pick up a jacket. It was soft, and big, and oh so comfortable. But the best part? It covered and protected me from the nasty elements.

Here it is, 19 years later and I still have that jacket. The sleeves are freyed, the zipper's a tish worn, but it's still soft, and big, and oh so comfortable. It reminds me of so many things-my entire family gathered together to love and annoy the daylights out of each other, beautiful sunsets on Lake Michigan, sitting around a campfire eating burnt hot dogs...I've worn that jacket for a very long time and we know each other. We understand each other. I keep it clean and dry and it keeps me warm and snug. See? Just like my husband. He's a little frayed around the edges, maybe a tish worn, but he's still soft, and big and comfortable and he protects me from the elements...

Now, let's take my favorite pair of sneakers. I bought them right before my back did it's crazy thing. At first they were awkward and stiff and slightly uncomfortable. We had to walk past a lot of miles before I had them broken in, but now? Now they fit well and are very comfortable; they were there for me through all the pain, all the confusion, and all the miles of healing I've gone through in the last 16 months. They were there for me before, during and after one of the hardest times in my life.

Just like my husband-we've seen a lot of miles together and he's been there for me before, during, and after a lot of the hard things in my life.

I see no reason for his feeling injured. It makes perfect sense to me. How about you? Do you understand?

October 21, 2011

these are a few of my favorite things....

The Great Blue Heron, beaver, Canadian Geese, Brown Thrashers, moose, crows, and....yes, don't hate me...squirrels.
Those are some of my favorite wild creatures.

Take this little guy for instance. He kept us amused for about a week one winter, and around here, anything that amuses us for even one day during the winter is a plus.

He would come up to that feeder and plant himself in the corner, (just like that) leaning against the edge of it with one tiny paw, acting like he owned it. He'd bend over and scoop up bird seed with his other paw and then stand there, leaning, munching to his heart's content. (or should I say stomach's?)

Anyway, even now I smile when I look at him-he's just too cute.

OK. That's it for today-I hope this gives you a quick smile too. :-)

October 20, 2011

Winter-The Longest Night

A day without sunshine is like, you know, night.
Steve Martin

I grew up in Colorado; it's not known as 'The Sunshine State', but it should be. (My mom told me when I was little that the Denver Post was so confident the sun was going to be shining every Sunday that they'd give away their Sunday edition if it wasn't.)

Colorado is such a sunny place that, after years of living there I actually got sick of the blue skies and bright days. I wanted the mystery and romance of a wet, cloudy day full of fog, rain and gloom. Can you imagine? What was I thinking? I wanted those things so badly I actually chose jolly old England as a place to go on a mission's trip.

A few years later I ended up here, in Indiana. America's England. For almost 5 months out of the year we get those wet, dark gloomy days. I'm so confident the sun won't be shining on Sundays that if I owned the Indianapolis Star I'd give away the Sunday edition if it did.

For almost 5 months out of the year it is grey here. The trees are grey. The roads are grey. The grass is grey. The skies are grey. Our moods are grey.

When I had 3 little boys at home with me I didn't really notice the grey. I was just too busy teaching, cooking, cleaning, etc. to even think about the lack of color outside.

But then my sons started doing something I wasn't very excited about. They grew up and one by one needed less of me. I didn't change-I still had the same need for challenge; the same need for something to pour me into, but I didn't know what that was.

At first I tried novels. I'd read book after book and escape into the romantic world of a fictitious girl having wonderful adventures, and dream. (popping Doves into my mouth as the pages turned.) However, that only made me fatter than I already was, lethargic, and discontent.

Finally, about 6 years ago I had a thought-why not set a goal to get me through the winter? I needed to pick something hard and challenging that I could pour me into; something that would demand my attention and most of my energy. That first year I chose my blubber. I wanted it gone. (That did the trick, btw. Winter was barely long enough for me to accomplish that goal!)

The next year I chose scrapbooking. I made two scrapbooks of my parents' lives for my brothers and again, that worked. It gave me something to focus on and the grey winter to race against. And again, I won, but barely.

Each year now I do this-I pick a goal or two and race against the gloom. Last year it was Survival. Healing. Not driving my family nuts as an invalid.

Maybe that's the reason I'm in trouble this year. I missed out on a year of challenge and my goal list? It's long. I have spiritual goals, emotional goals, physical goals, a family goal and one huge crazy goal that will most certainly demand a lot of me.

So now as I sit and think about the winter I'm almost excited. Almost. It will take more than a few goals to get me truthfully excited about winter. (Maybe like spending it on a beach somewhere?) But I am excited about my goals and the challenge they give me. They really do help me get through the longest night.

October 18, 2011

This One

This one, out of all of them, has surprised me the most.

He was such a funny, stubborn, independent little person.


sweet and gentle....

he loved being outside, in the woods, alone and quiet, more than anything else in the world. (getting ready for a backpack trip in this pic.)

As he grew, his focus turned outward.

He noticed people and started caring deeply for them, especially children.

He fell in love and got married, thus giving me a daughter. (and a new granddaughter, but I don't have a picture of her on hand)

This boy, as a boy, was so independent. As a newborn he wanted to be left alone. Nursing was for filling his tummy, not security or comfort or warmth. Once his hunger was gone he'd fuss and squirm until I put him in his crib. He'd sigh, snuggle deep into the mattress and go to sleep. See what I mean? Solitude.

Even before he could walk or talk he preferred sitting in a corner, by himself, with a pile of toys instead of interacting with people. As long as we left him to his own devices he was happy.

As a young boy his favorite thing to do was spend hours and hours on our little pond, by himself, in the row boat. He'd look for turtles, fish, bugs and birds, thrilled to be alone dreaming and thinking boy things.

Sometimes I'd stand in our livingroom, looking out the window, watching him row around. "What is he thinking about? Is he praying? Hoping to catch a turtle? Thinking about math?" I'd wonder what he was going to do with his life. I knew it would involve nature and solitude. Maybe a park ranger?

I did know one thing for certain. I wanted him to go to college. As I grew up my mom and I were poor and she struggled constantly to make ends meet. We were never homeless, and never went without a meal, but living like we did was sometimes scary and sometimes painful, and sometimes just plain old hard.

That pattern continued after my husband and I married. He never went to college and we've struggled to make ends meet. We've never been homeless, and never gone without a meal, but living like we have has sometimes been scary, sometimes painful, and sometimes just plain old hard.

Rather than focusing on things eternal, like loving and serving, forgiveness and hope, I allowed fear to pull me and I pushed college. Rather than looking at our son's heart, and his strengths and gifts, and the desire he had to be with children, I pushed college. Rather than trusting God with our son's life, I pushed college.

Thankfully he ignored me. He prayed and sought and studied the Word. The Lord took that strong will, that stubborn, independent boy and now?

Now that boy lives in the inner city, surrounded by lost, hurting children and their lost hurting parents. That boy is seldom alone, seldom outside, seldom in quiet. He spends his days laying down his desires and his life, serving. Showing people there is a God who serves. Showing people there is a God who loves and cares and wants to be involved in their lives. Pointing them to the One who is the only One. The One who can heal and comfort and forgive.

October 17, 2011

God is good

God is good.

Lately I've been noticing those words a lot. They are so deeply true, but the only time I hear them is when something good has happened in someone's life. And I must admit, I think the same thing when life is right; when the sun is shining and something wonderful has happened. But what about when life is grueling? When horrible, daunting things come and you feel overwhelmed, what then? It's so hard at that moment to think, "Hey, isn't God good?"

I must admit, that has never been the first (or second or third) thing I've thought when thorny things have knocked on my door. Sometimes it takes years of looking back over my shoulder before I can see and admit God's goodness during a difficult time in life.

Lately, when I hear those words and see the circumstances under which they're used, I've wondered two things:

1. Is it possible for humans to hurt the father heart of God?
2. Do we hurt that heart when we say He's good only when life is good?

Maybe not. Maybe, because He is our Father, He understands how difficult it is for us to say, "Hey, you are wonderful!" when life isn't.
But, I think as our Father, he'd appreciate it if we would.

The bible says,
Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see...
....Hebrews 11:1

And, the bible says He is good. All the time. Daytime, nighttime, lovely times, trying times. All the times. He is good.

He is good when life isn't:
The Lord is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in Him.
Nahum 1:7

He is good when we aren't:
Good and upright is the Lord; therefore He instructs sinners in His ways.
Psalm 25:8

He is good when life is frightening:
Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in Him.
Psalm 34:8

He is good when it looks like He isn't:
For the Lord is good and His love endures forever; His faithfulness continues through all
Psalm 100:5

He is good when we don't deserve it:
The Lord is good to all; He has compassion on all He has made.
Psalm 145:9

He even has goodness stored up for us:
How abundant are the good things that you have stored up for those who fear you, that you bestow in the sight of all, on those who take refuge in You.
Psalm 31:19

Clinging to those words, those verses...remembering them as life happens rather than spotting them years after the fact...trusting Him minute by minute, when life doesn't make sense-that's my prayer. To get to the point where I can see and say "God is good" regardless...Rememebering Hebrews 11:1 even when life doesn't make sense:
Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see...

October 14, 2011

every man's home is his castle, and this one comes with a draw bridge

I met a hermit the other day. He is very social and slightly flirty, but he is a hermit.

I never did find out the name of my hermit, but I wish I would have. As it is, I feel like Maria in The Sound of Music when she was praying for the children in her care, " ....and God bless what's his name...."

What? Oh. You want to know what on earth I'm talking about? Sorry. I'd love to tell you his story-I'm so glad you asked. Now you'll know my hermit too, and you can pray for him as well.

Last Sunday we went to a state park about 2 hours from home. I was standing near the door of the lodge, waiting for the rest of the family to arrive, when I spotted an old grandpa sitting in a rustic log rocking chair, apparently alone. We smiled at each other and began to chat.

I asked him where he was from and how many children he had and he asked me the same. Then he wanted to know if I had a job. I told him I hadn't had a "real" job in 25 years; instead, I've stayed home, raised 4 boys and home schooled along the way.

My answer, I think, inadvertently wounded an already broken heart. He told me his story, with a smile on his face, but I could see hurt behind his thick-lensed glasses.

He was born and raised not far from the state park we were visiting in. As a young man he'd gone to college and become an engineer. Somewhere along the way he'd met "her", the girl of his dreams, and asked her to be his wife. They hadn't been married long when they had a baby boy. Right around this time they found a beautiful piece of property, nestled in the hills and the forest about a mile from the state park. 16 acres of wooded privacy. They bought it and construction on their new home began.

They were so excited. It was going to be a lovely home and his bride wanted lovely new furniture to go with it. She asked her young husband if she could get a job, just for a bit, so they could buy that furniture. He consented and within a few weeks she was a working woman.

Well, a few months down the road she met another young man and ran off with him, taking their baby boy with her. My hermit was crushed. He finished the house, and then...then he built a draw bridge.

At this point in our visit my little grandpa stood up and pulled out his wallet-he wanted to show me something. It was a very old picture of a long, gravel driveway that meandered through the woods, over a creek, and up a hill. Right over the creek was a cozy little red covered bridge. This wasn't a normal covered bridge though. This one had a large door on the end with a padlock attached to it. I could see the necessity of that door, and that lock, if he'd built his home in the ghetto, or in jolly old England where a neighboring knight might attack, but here? In Indiana? Deep in the woods? Who was he afraid of??

(After he showed me the picture he sat down and looked at me. He grinned and said, "You know, there aren't too many women who are willing to stay home and take care of a family. If I could get you across that bridge, I'd lock the door and throw the key into the woods!")

Before I could think of a response to that statement he finshed his story.

Apparently, after about a year his wife thought better of her decision to leave and wanted to come home. She begged him to forgive her and take her back, but he refused. His heart and his property were padlocked shut and that was the end of that. He's lived all alone in that cozy little house for 50 years now. Nearly every day he gets in his car and drives over to the lodge and sits. He thinks, he watches people, he talks to some. But at the end of the day he goes home. He closes his little draw bridge and hides where no one can get in. No one can see him; no one can get at him; his life and his heart are safe, locked up tight....

October 12, 2011

my cup runneth over, but it's empty

As I sit here at this computer, I wonder what to say.

Who are you? Why are you here? What would I say to you if we were at Starbucks having coffee rather than the way it is-me here, alone in the dark, and you...there. (wherever that is) Is there anything I can do for you? Anything I can say that would help you take one more step in your journey? What do you need the most at this moment?

I wonder about that and then I look inside. My heart is empty and I have writer's block. (What a great time for that to happen-right after I hand you my uglies. I want to bury that post as soon as possible and now I can't think of a thing to say??)

On the other hand, I should be able to write all day. I am 50 after all. Surely there's something God has done, God has said to me, God has taught or given me, that I could write about...

Take them for example:

and this:

Four amazing gifts; four lives; four stories. Each boy so very different from the other, matchless and precious. They all have a body; they all have hurts, and needs, and desires.

One of the most difficult things about mothering is that fact. Each child is unique. It was quite challenging bouncing around from child to child, wanting to relate to each one in the same way, but there was no way I could. They were just too different. I had to come to them and mother them on their terms. I couldn't treat goggle boy the same way I treated our oldest son.

Sometimes I would have to put aside my preconceived ideas about how to parent and come to each boy empty-ready to just listen, asking him, Is there anything I can do for you? Anything I can say that would help you take one more step in your journey? What do you need the most at this moment?

I think about that and then I think about this planet. Each person is a gift, matchless and precious. Each person here has a body, has hurts, needs and desires. Each person has a story.

Maybe that's what you need today? Someone to come to you with an empty cup, ready to just listen and let your heart fill it....maybe that's what God wants all of us to do. Put aside our preconceived ideas about how to relate, and ask each other, Is there anything I can do for you? Anything I can say that would help you take one more step in your journey? What do you need the most at this moment?

October 6, 2011


When our sons were very young, (they still seem young to me now and 2 of them are in their 20's-but I'm thinking diaper-wearing young) I read an article in a parenting magazine. I don't remember most of what the article said, but one thing jumped out at me. The author of the article said it's a wise thing to pray for you children.

You might be thinking, oh for Pete's sake. I do that nearly every waking moment of my life. But, the article went on and spoke about the wisdom of praying scripture for your child; taking an actual passage right out of the bible and praying it for him.

Please, just take a minute out of your crazy day and read these verses. Pretty please? You won't regret it. Think about your child-put his name in place of all the "yous". Look at all the incredible things you would be praying for your child-things that are eternal; things that have priceless value; things that will give your child a godly focus....

For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light. Col.1:9-12

And look at this passage:

So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ. Col. 2:6-8

Here's another one the article suggested praying:

And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God. Phil.1:9-11

And the last one:

I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers. I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. Eph. 1:16-21

I don't always pray scripture for our sons. Sometimes I've only had the brain power to throw out an S.O.S. But, I did write these passages out on recipe cards and put them in my bible. From time to time I will take those cards out and pray them. I pray them for our whole family, not just our sons....

October 5, 2011

oh those heart strings

One year, rather than a class on how to teach children, I went to a parenting workshop at the homeschool convention. I would have to say that was, by far, the best workshop I ever sat in on.

The speakers were the Quines of Cornerstone Curriculum. Have you ever heard of them? God has blessed them with so much wisdom. I have pages of notes I took, and every word they spoke was worthwhile, but there was one thing they said that went straight to my heart.

"Right now you are setting the tone for a relationship with your child that will last for the rest of your lives."

Whew-don't feel any pressure now, ok?

Thankfully they went on to share some very practical advice on how to set a good, loving, healthy tone for that relationship. They started out by drawing two hearts on the chalk board, with strings tying them together, like this:
One of those hearts is yours, the other, your child's. When you have a baby that baby comes with pre-packaged heart strings and they're all attached to you; millions of them; tiny little lines of love, trust, and need. That baby is absolutely certain you will care for and protect him, regardless of his behavior.

No other person on the planet will have the influence you do on that child. And, with every word you utter, every hug or slap, every look or sigh, you are affecting those tiny strings. You can fray them or sever them, or you can add to them, making that bond between the two of you even stronger.

Harshness will close his spirit; it will cut those precious strings and your hearts will begin to lose that precious connection.

What we need to do is look deeply into our child's heart-and see him the way God sees him. Remember God made that child-He gave your son or daughter gifts and strengths and a character all his own. Look for those giftings and strengths and point them out to your child. Frequently. Look into his eyes and tell him he is unique. There is no one else on earth just like him, nor will there ever be. God created him and God wants to use him to give and love and serve those around him. Give him practical examples of ways God could use his strengths and gifts in the lives of other people. Tell him you're so very proud of him and thankful for him.

Use your tongue to praise your child; encourage him and build him up. He needs your confidence and your trust. Let him know you trust him to make wise choices, even if deep in your heart you're doubtful. He doesn't need to know that. Most children, (and this applies to teens as well) want to live up to your expectations. Trust your child, but really trust the Lord.
Lay that child in God's arms on a regular basis and ask Him to make that child the person God wants him to be. Ask the Lord to help your child make those wise choices. (Your offspring doesn't need to know you're doing that either. That's just between you and the maker of that child.)

Even during times of disciplining your child you can build him up and love on him. That's not easy to do, especially when all you want to do is call the nearest orphanage and hand him over.
Sometimes it takes incredible self-control to discipline a child in love and with patience because usually by the time discipline is needed, your patience is gone. That's when you lay yourself in God's arms and ask Him to do it. Ask Him to help you teach and train your child without breaking his spirit or fraying even one tiny string.

As you go throughout your days, ask Him to help you love your child unconditionally and strengthen those heart strings. Ask Him for the strength to do that day after day after day after day.....it's only through His strength we can do anything.

One of my favorite bible verses is Galatians 6:9. I have it written out on a card and have had that card stuck on the cabinet in our kitchen for years. I guess it's become my life-long parenting verse:

And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.

October 4, 2011

My Strange Identity

What would you say if I told you I bought this? At a garage sale. On purpose.

I looked at his sweet little face and thought, "That is me." and brought him home.

My husband thinks I'm nuts-he said that little guy looks like someone from the old TV show, Night Gallery. He wouldn't be surprised if some night that boy picks up his little chair and bashes one of us over the head with it while we're sleeping.

My sons think I'm crazy. "Mom, he is just creepy looking. Be careful, he might stab you at night while you're sawing logs!"

(Just out of curiosity-if I see me in that little boy, and my family sees those things......)

I would like to tell you, before I go on, that I am not a doll person. I don't collect them and don't plan on starting now. There was just something about this one boy. I tried to explain it to my family, but they don't get it. One son practically dissected the poor little guy to see how old he is. Maybe he's an antique and worth some money?

So, now I sit and look at my boy. I ask him, "Why are you me?"

If I couldn't explain it to my family, how on earth can I explain it to you? I'd like to try though.
It would be nice to know someone out there understands what I feel when I look at that doll....

I see a new mother, not quite 25, holding her blue eyed baby boy; she's overwhelmed at God's trust in her. You put this life in my hands? Are you sure I'm up for this?? What if I screw up and he turns out to be a mess of a person because of me? Three more times I would be given God's trust and three more times I would ask God those questions.

I stare at him and I see 75 months of nursing; more than 6 years of my life spent connected to a baby boy, vulnerable eyes looking deep into mine. Those were moments like no other. I'd fill a tummy and that look would fill my heart.

When I look at my boy, sitting peacefully in his chair, I remember all the years of diapers-probably 10 or so if I think about it. Ten years of not-so-sweet moments and ten years of stinky laundry. But, changing all those diapers said something to me. They said, This boy needs you. You are his servant. Serve him whether it's pleasant or not; whether you feel like it or not; whether it's convenient or not. We are all called to serve and lay down our lives. Begin here.

He also reminds me of all the noise, dirt, fighting, boo boos and band aids that go along with mothering sons. I see chubby little legs learning to walk; grubby little fingers holding tightly to mine; cars and trucks, GI Joes, smelly pets, camo, camping, fishing, cowboys and Indians, mud tracked through the house and dirty fingerprints on the walls. I see 21 years of homeschooling: reading boy books out loud, tears over math, the joy of watching someone "get it", hugs all day every day, any time of day. I see boys grown into men and discovering their wings; letting go and now welcoming back. I see God's faithfulness in using me to do what there is no way I could do without Him. I see Him filling in the gaps and bringing good out of brokenness and fear.

I've been mothering boys for exactly half my life. And for some strange, indescribable reason, that doll sums it all up for me. All that I've been and so much of what I've learned is smooshed into his stuffing and his sweet little face. That is why he's me.

October 3, 2011

helicopter parenting

This post was originally written about 2 years ago, but I wanted to post it again today...

Last year, when our 2 oldest sons moved out within a week or so of each other, my poor old heart went through quite a time of adjustment. I think my midlife crises actually started when our oldest son was a senior in high school, but having 2 leave the nest almost at the same instant, accelerated that crisesy feeling.

In an effort to understand everything I was feeling I read a book about the emptying nest. The authors described two kinds of parents in the book: one is a hoverer and the other steps back completely and almost becomes "obsolete" in the grown child's life. Outwardly, I'm not sure I fit in either category, but in my heart I'm definitely a Hoverer. I wrote this to our sons hoping it would explain how I feel:
If I hover it's because: Other than the Lord and your dad, I love you 4 boys more than anything else on the planet.

I carried each of you in my body while the Lord carefully knit you together. I was there the first time you kicked a leg, stretched your arm, and hiccuped. Your life was literally knit to mine for nearly a year and the bonds that formed in my heart are almost indescribable.

We reassured each other after you were born. You had lost your safe, dark, quiet world and I had become a mother for the first, second, third, or fourth time. Those first few hours together were terrifying for each of us; to hold you next to me and breath in the scent and warmth and reality of "us" brought comfort to our hearts.

I hover because I know what a precious, amazing gift each child is. When I look at your face, your eyes, your hair, your hands...when I look at your heart, your strengths, your desires, and your needs...I am awed that the Lord chose me to be your mother. He wanted me to partner with your dad to raise you?
It's no wonder your lives have been bathed in prayer. God alone knew where He wanted to go with the tiny life that was placed in our arms when you were born. He alone has the plan for who you will end up being. The lives you will touch. The people you will love. The hurts you will experience.

I hover because I want to make sure I get it right. I forget sometimes that I'm only an instrument in your life. I am not your life. He is. Jesus is.

To release your life into His capable hands is a daily choice... to surrender you to Him and say "He's your son. He's yours." It's getting easier.

Easier because I see that by letting you go you're becoming someone much bigger, much better, much more of everything good than if I'd held on tight and not let go. Jesus is using you-if I hadn't let go you would be loved. You would be safe. You would be protected. But you would be small.

love them
listen to them
give them deep roots
give them wings