He is more than…

The conference began with a huge smile from Luke’s teacher. The teacher consultant walked in and sat down. She began with a huge smile on her face, as well.

“Luke is just a neat kid, ” she said.

“He really is. I was so excited when I found out he was going to be my student this year because I had heard what a neat kid he is,” his teacher replied.

Luke is a neat kid. I never really would have thought to use that word, but it fits him. The remainder of his conference was uneventful, just the usual run-through of his vision problems.

As we were leaving, we decided to say hi to another staff member who works with Luke. She had a smile on her face and said she was happy we stopped by––she had a story to tell us. Luke had made her month by helping another student (not a friend) who was having a hard time with another kid at recess. He came up with an idea that he and some others would go together at recess that day and talk to the kid. Luke also suggested that they could all play together after. When I put myself in the mind of an eight-year-old, this is a huge thing. To help someone who is struggling and to play at recess with someone you wouldn’t normally play with shows how amazing my kid is. The last thing she said was what a natural leader Luke is. I know he is, I really do. Yet, sometimes in the midst of all my parenting, I forget and overlook this.

Luke is a good student and I love that he is. He is more than a good student, though. He is a neat kid. The kind that makes teachers excited to have him in their class. He is a natural leader. The type of leader who looks out for others. He is more than my son, as well. He is a friend to many. The kind of friend who is kind and accepting. He is more than I ever imagined my child could be and more than I could ever take credit for. He is Luke, and in this world that is cruel and selfish, it is a great thing to be a “Luke”.

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Freedom

rain.jpgScattered heavy raindrops began to fall from the sky as I played in a nearby tennis court with my friends during our brothers baseball game. Slowly, the sporadic rain turned into a steady rainfall. My friends and I lifted our arms high and tilted our heads back as we allowed the rain to land in our open mouths. I remember the laughter that flowed from us and the glances that bonded us in that moment. Time slowed and we were nothing else but free.

Sitting here thinking of that moment, I can almost feel the same freedom I felt that day. I believe if it were to start raining right now I would want to run outside and try to relive it. I wouldn’t actually do it though. Well, unless my kids were with me. I would feel like an idiot standing in the rain by myself.

We all yearn for freedom. Look at the world around you. People are always seeking and fighting for it. Or, they’re in pain because they can’t find it or simply don’t have the strength to fight for it. What I see are people clinging to the the wrong kind of freedom or things that are not freedom at all. They just think or hope it is. Because those freedoms are always in exchange for something else. I wonder if deep down they feel a void knowing it isn’t what they really need to be seeking. Those freedoms are only temporary, they are shallow puddles that will soon dry.

Like me standing in the rain. That free feeling ceased. My friends and I became bored and cold. I remember having no towel in the car and I couldn’t wait to get home to change into dry clothes. Dry socks never felt so good. The rain was a fleeting childhood freedom. Some of my best memories surround such freedoms. Childhood freedoms, although innocent and pure, will never give us what we need.

There is only one real freedom in this life and that is freedom in Christ. Many of us “adult” christians know this already. Yet, we hesitate like I do when the thought of playing in the rain crosses my mind. Why can’t we fully embrace this freedom? We’re all sinners, duh. I wonder though…what would happen if we started running and clinging to Him like a child, regardless of what sin was standing in the way? Childlike faith, I believe it’s called (wink wink).

Would we better sway people away from the false freedoms they are rooted in if they saw us clinging more to the truth our hearts hold so dear? I think about my kids and the type of faith I want them to carry throughout their lives. I picture them standing in the rain with their arms up high and heads tilted back because they know freedom, real freedom, never will cease.

Stepping Out

Today we have plans to spend the day at the pool, our favorite family hangout place as of this summer. The weather is not quite warm enough, but we may suffer through because the pool closes for the season after today. As I am waiting and hoping for the breeze to slow a bit so we can go, I sit on our deck and am quite enjoying the breeze. So, I cannot make up my mind if I love or hate it. Oh the fickleness of it all.

There is something in a warm breeze that pulls me in. A few minutes ago, I started thinking of love and life and the different ways each and every one of us sees and feels and lives. It is overwhelming, if you think of it, how different we all are. Yes, we all have common ground and I believe you can find common ground with anyone, if you let go of your judgements and preconceived ideas of people.

If you were to be able to see through someone else’s eyes, I bet you’d see world much more different than you could possibly imagine. I think of my two boys for example. Same parents, same opportunities, same many other things. They’re opposite in the ways they take on life. They give love differently. They receive love differently.

I love my boys and I know they love me, of course. They are amazing in their own ways. I cannot imagine my life without them. One, though, is harder to understand…harder to reach. He doesn’t talk about his feelings as the other does. The other is much more like me. We talk and think things through. We are very much in touch with ourselves. We don’t get through anything without talking and expressing our feelings. When he is mad, people need to listen to how he feels and almost magically his anger dissolves.

The other doesn’t want to talk, he is quite the opposite. He does better when people let him be to sort through it on his own. I feel as though it is his way of maintaining control. Maintaining control over his life gives him peace. He appears to be more dismissive toward people who feel the need to talk. So, expressing feelings towards him sometimes feels as though he doesn’t care. I know he does care. He has a huge heart. He just is different.

Why wouldn’t someone want to talk through their feelings? One boy thinks.

Why does someone need to talk through their feelings? The other thinks.

God made people to have their own unique strengths. Those strengths can make it hard for people to understand each other. That could be where where we screw up. I mean, we aren’t God and we shouldn’t think we hold so much power as to understanding where people come from all the time. Do we even have the right to? We need to start seeing that understanding is sometimes overrated. Maybe it’s in the not understanding where the true beauty lies. Because, that is when we step out of ourselves and into something bigger and more meaningful…unconditional love.

The end.

Raw

imageThe last year and a half has been rough on me. I haven’t wanted to fully admit it (even to myself) and I especially haven’t felt like discussing it. I don’t want to go into all the particulars that has caused this. Life is life and it isn’t always pleasant. For someone like myself, there is nothing harder than to watch bad things or bad times fall upon people I care about. I’m not saying this to prove I’m a good person, but I’d much rather have bad things happen to myself than to my peeps. That is the good and bad of the gift of mercy. I presume every gift has a weakness and Satan uses that weakness to try to tear us down.

Sometimes it is all the little instances that build rather than just one thing. A cousin commits suicide, an aunt overdoses and dies, an old friend dies, and the other instances I do not wish to share. My cousin left me hurting due to all the pain he endured and felt he couldn’t endure any longer. My aunt, where do I begin? I have fond memories of her wit and creativity. I also have painful memories of watching someone slowly destroy their life over many years. My old friend left me thinking of what more christians can and should do for those who live differently…those who have been dragged down, beaten, and have made poor choices because of this thing called life. Actually, everything from this past year and a half have left me thinking that.

My life has been rather “easy” compared to most. I know that and I am thankful. Maybe it has made it easier to have the faith I have. My struggles are insignificant compared to some and maybe that has made me “weaker”. I know some whom feel I haven’t truly lived. I must disagree. I believe we live through not just our own experiences, but through others as well. Our lives are connected and our lives have the power to alter the lives of others. Our lives are far from being isolated, that is a fact. Yes, I know no one else truly knows what it is like to live in thine own shoes, but that does not mean it doesn’t give insight and life to those around.

My somewhat easy life has left me raw and has left me stumbling. Last night, Matt and I had a conversation that I was yearning for and didn’t even realize I was. He thanked me for all the sacrifices I have made for our family and others. He told me he notices all I do. He said he doesn’t know how I do all I do. It made me weep uncontrollably. I did not know how much I needed to release. Those cleansing tears have left me feeling lighter today. Crazy what a few words from a loving husband can do for a person.

What exactly is the good?

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As I sat waiting for Luke’s game to begin, I played with blades of grass at my feet. My mind was as calm as a glassy lake; there was not a wave nor a ripple in sight. But then my phone rang. It was my dad. He never calls me on the weekend, I thought as I answered my phone.

In one second my frame of mind shifted. The pain of this world, oh the pain. I wasn’t surprised by the news, yet each word stung. Sometimes it is the unsurprising news that hurts the most. I always hope people will respond or do differently than what I see coming. I much rather the stories of people overcoming life. The bad in life, that is. I love when people prevail.

It is a strength and a weakness that I strive to find the good in all things. The problem arises when the pain of this world is deeper than the seemingly good it can bring. I hate to see people give up on life. They throw in the towel and don’t look back, and they don’t look forward either. They remain stuck unable to move. Maybe that is why I need Romans 8:28, we all need Romans 8:28.

Wait.

What exactly does that even mean? I just talked about pain and giving up on life. Now I am encouraging a bible verse that talks about “in all things God works for the good”? Yes, I just said that and that.

Yesterday, after I wrote my blog post about this verse, I walked into my kitchen and there on my table were mason jars full of carnations. They’ve been sitting there for almost a week, but I saw them as if they just magically appeared.image I focused in on the pink ones. Romans 8:28 reminds me of my grandparents, it reminds me of my grandma’s death. Since the verse keeps popping up I have been thinking of her. Pink carnations were her favorite. They’ve been here in my house and yet it slipped my mind until that moment. As if that were not enough, I went to sit on my couch. My phone was in my hand because I was getting ready to clean and was going to put music on. (Who likes to clean without music?) I sat, thought about my grandma, pulled myself together, and then put Pandora on. I began to stand up when the song Homesick came on. It was the song they played at her funeral.

The tears flowed, I pictured my grandma’s face, and then peace came. My grandma was touched by the pain of this world, just like us all. Her pain is no more, though. She’s home. It got me thinking. That’s it, I’m homesick. We are all homesick. That is why it hurts so bad. We know we don’t belong here.

We are touched by our bad choices, other people’s bad choices, unexpected news, disease, death, and etc. We must remember our hope and truth lie in the fact that sin or anything that happens as a result cannot ruin God’s plan. His mind is set on our eternal salvation. His mind is set on bringing us home. That is why He sent His son Jesus to die for our sins. Stop and brew on that for a minute. That is powerful stuff. Nothing can stop His plan and nothing can stop His purpose of eternity.

The challenge lies not in my knowing this. It lies in my sharing this. It lies in you sharing this. How can we show people the good in God’s purpose? How can we show them that the light shines in the darkness and the darkness will not prevail?

Finding the Joy in Parenting


Choices. As a parent you are always making choices. Sometimes your brain is dizzy with all the things you need to decide. You want what is best for your kids and many times it is hard to measure the results. You make a choice. You hope and pray it was the right one. You wait. You breathe a sigh of relief when you find you did the right thing. You feel ill when you find you did the wrong thing. Sometimes you wait years to see if it was the right choice. Sometimes you will never know.

You have information thrown at you from all directions. It is as though everyone knows how to be the perfect parent. Well, until it is your own child that you are parenting. Because, once you look your child in the eye and feel the overwhelming love, you just know there is too much at stake to even try to pretend you know what to do all the time. Once you see your child struggle or mess up, you know there is no cookie cutter way to parent your imperfect and unique child…

How do you ease your weary mind and embrace the joy of parenting? The answer is a little different for everyone. Again, there is no cookie cutter way.

I feel like I do a decent job (most days) at enjoying this sometimes arduous journey. Here are some tips I have picked up along the way:

  1. If it isn’t broke, simply leave it alone. If something works for you and your family then screw what everyone else thinks.
  2. Do listen to advice, though. Some people know more than you. But don’t forget, it is your choice on what advice you follow.
  3. If you don’t follow someone’s advice, don’t feel guilty. Seriously, don’t. You know your child the best. You also know your own limits. You don’t owe anyone an explanation.
  4. Honor your limits. Honor your spouse’s limits. Honor your kids limits. Enough said.
  5. Don’t judge other parents. You are not in their shoes. You do not know their child as they do.
  6. Don’t compare and don’t ever compete. No one enjoys being around those who try to compete or get their kids involved in such nonsense.
  7. Allow your child to be who they are, not who you think they should be. This may be hard, but, your kids know themselves better than you know them. (I have to thank my parents for doing a great job at this one.)
  8. Forget the rules sometimes. Just have fun. Sing loud, dance, and get a little goofy with them.
  9. Love them. Figure out how they feel loved. Give it to them unconditionally.
  10. Let them love you. Accept the way they show love and appreciate it.
  11. Most importantly, trust God and His will for your kids. God’s got this, guys. He really does.

Feel free to share any tips I may have missed.

 

The Fickleness of Life

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I took this picture as I was driving one evening. It was New Years Eve to be exact. I know it was a bit risky, but there was something about the sky that night.  It was in the clouds, the sun setting, and it was my contemplative mood. Maybe it was in my contemplative mood that made the sky more beautiful than usual.  Though still, when I look at this picture I am drawn to it.

When I was in my late teens and early twenties I would go for drives out in the country when my mind was weary.  I remember some of the moments that led me to grab my keys and go. They were all moments that grew me as a person. Moments I wouldn’t want to relive, but also moments I wouldn’t want to take back.

Nowadays, with kids, seldom do I find solace in the car.  I use it as a time to connect and reconnect.  We talk sometimes about life and faith. I turn up the tunes and jam with my kids. I listen to them converse with each other. We play I Spy. It is fun. Peaceful?  Not so much.

I no longer have the freedom to take off as I please.  I’d be lying if I said I didn’t miss it.  It is yet another sacrifice I am willing to make as a parent.

I will get my car rides back some day.  The peace and quiet…the scenery will soothe my weary mind. I will think of my car rides with the boys. I will hear the loudness and feel the chaos in my mind. It will then be those car rides I miss.

Funny how fickle we are.