Wednesday, October 21, 2009

7 is not so big...

Moses is 7. He is so big! He backed the golf cart out of Granny's shed this week by himself (he's been doing this for awhile). He does wheelies on his bike. He reads. He writes. He engineers amazing creative ways to accomplish everyday tasks. He has a BB gun. And several pocket knives. He helps me take care of Hannah, changing her and dressing her. He sleeps over at friend's houses and doesn't call me to come get him at bedtime. In fact, I think he would really like to stay for days. He has beaten Super Mario Brothers on the Wii. He does back flips on the trampoline. He cooks eggs himself. He is just so...big.

But then there are the times that he falls, scrapes his knee, and wants me to make it all better. Or when someone says something unkind to him and his little heart is broken. Some nights he has a
bad dream and just wants to crawl in bed between Eric and myself. He likes for me to get his clothes out and toss them up to him on the top bunk in the mornings or to give him a piggy back ride to breakfast. He still whines (sometimes). He likes for me to scratch his back. I love the way he says in his still so sleepy voice, "Good morning, Mama" while he rubs his eyes and holds blanky. I still have the ability to quiet his fears. He still wants me to kiss him good night and tuck him in.

I hope he always wants to kiss me matter how big he is.

Monday, October 19, 2009

The top of the wall

**FINALLY** we finished the climbing wall! It has been up for a good long time, but now it has all the holds on it. You can see we improvised a few at the bottom... It is about 14 feet high, just right for the children. How cool is it that this is what recess is like?!

There is so much to learn about life from the climbing wall... wow.

The thing that has stuck with me the most is actually not getting to the top. It is what they do once they are there. The boys (especially) are pretty confident that they can get to the top. Even friends who have not climbed this wall before puff up their little man chests and, indeed, shimmy right up to the top. Then they get stuck. And it really is not that high. And you can see they wear a harness, and I am holding the other end of the rope. I try to tell them that this is what I went to college to do. (Yes, it is, in fact. I am finally putting my degree to work!) They don't care what I went to school to do when they are standing at the top, and I am asking them "to lean back and trust the rope".

Sometimes they try and try and try. They get mad. They cry. But they keep trying to trust me and trust the rope. Finally, they conquer their fear and, oh joy! What fun they have rappelling down the wall!!

Sometimes they get to the top and say "NO WAY. I WILL NOT EVEN TRY." My husband is a counselor. I try all the techniques on them. "What are you afraid of?" "Can you trust me?" "Tell me about your relationship with your father." Blah, blah, blah. If they have made up their minds not to even try to push past what they are afraid of, then no amount of coaxing will work.

Yeah, I say to myself, that's not me. I NEVER do that. I always try, right? Self, are you listening?
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Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Speaking in Flowers

A long time ago, Eric and I came up with this idea. What if our words turned into flowers as they were spoken? What kind of garden would we grow? I hate to admit it, but a lot of days, my words plant this kind of garden:

These are the days when everything that comes out of my mouth is complaining, bitterness, grumbling, frustration.... Then in the middle of all that, I get a moment of relief from all the dryness in my heart, and, like a shower in the desert, out comes a compliment. An encouraging word. A praise. An I love you. A sunflower in the middle of the dry, dusty, dead ground.

We all know that "life and death are in the power of the tongue". How much do we actually pay attention to that? Are we those people who just say what is on our mind? Do we stop to think about how what we are saying might make someone else feel? "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me." Whoever said that had obviously never been condemned with harsh words from his father. He must have been quite content in his marriage with a wonderfully mute wife. His friends never made the mistake to share with him their point of view, because it was, of course, "for his best".

And this doesn't even take into consideration the actual realization of curses we speak over ourselves and the people we love most! We wonder why we can't ever get ahead when all we can proclaim is "I never have enough money!" Or why we feel ill after we just said to our child, "You make me sick." This is not some hokey pokey notion, but real truth. Just because we don't believe it, doesn't mean it doesn't operate in our lives. We can refuse the Law of Gravity all day long, but I'll bet every single person takes a parachute with them to skydive.

But what about the things we don't say? What if we are careful not to speak curses, but not intentional to speak blessings? Eric and I have become very intentional to speak blessings over our children. This is sometimes harder! To speak out loud that "I am patient. I am a patient, loving mother with a gentle spirit" when all I really want to do is kick everybody out the door while I scream "WHAT WERE YOU THINKING??!!!", is an act of my will to speak a blessing over myself. In my busyness, I have to slow myself down often to speak loving words to my family. I want to get this done first, then I will stop to tell Josiah I am so proud of him... Why not tell him first?! It was hard at first. Growing up, my family wasn't really one that was super affectionate and affirming. I had to give myself permission to pour out what I didn't necessarily have poured in...

For those of you who are not around children very often, do not be fooled by the masks that people wear. As we age, we become masters of facade... When death is spoken in place of life, it is not nearly as visible as with a child. I am reminded every time I speak to my children that I am a gardener. I have seen them literally wilt right before my eyes because of a harsh word spoken over them. What kind of garden they become is very much because of what I plant. To my great shame, I confess that sometimes in my inpatience I throw thorns and thistles instead of tenderly, carefully transplanting young sprouts.

Oh, God! Please help me use my words to plant this instead:

P.S. I guess I better get used to being real with every thing I write on here... here is today's confession: Yes, we do live by this. To the point you will never hear us say that Josiah "has" any disease. He was diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis when he was a baby (he will be three October 25). He manifests the symptoms of a disease. Those things both did and do happen. But we will not speak over him a diagnosis of death. At the point all we can hope for is what we see, all hope is lost. We believe for Josiah (and any other child God blesses us with!) what we cannot see. What we cannot understand, but dare to hope in. His name means "Healed by God". We didn't know that when he was born, nor did we know he would need that promise so tangibly in his life. We believe God still heals. We believe words have power. And I don't know too many little boys that are as healthy as he has been for the past three years! You might think we are crazy, or maybe "that we are not facing the facts", I can't blame you. A few years ago, before I got to walk all this out, I might have thought I was crazy for believing in this, too. It is funny how a little life and death situation will spin you all around and make you question everything you have ever thought you have known... and rebuild your faith in a whole other paradigm.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

The Starving Time

I think I have been fighting God on a few things...

I just finished a book called The Light and the Glory. It is a book about the history of our country and questions if God really did have a plan for America. The book started with Columbus and follows the destiny of our great country through our first President's second term. I want to share with you one of the most impacting parts of the book because I feel like I keep going around this mountain. Hopefully by sharing this journey with you, I can get off this trip...

The Pilgrims, the Puritans, and the Continental Army (at Valley Forge) all had "starving times". And as I process this lesson, all the way back to Genesis, there have been starving times. For the Pilgrims, it was the first winter. They got to Plymouth in November. Now, I am not sure who planned their itinerary, but that is the last time I would have hired that agency! Arriving anywhere north of Florida in November (under those circumstances) is not a trip I would have taken. One winter, all they had to eat was FIVE 5 five kernels of corn to a day. Open your hand and picture holding five kernels of corn in it. Now tell yourself that is all you have to eat not just for one day, but for months. Yet not one person starved.

Have you ever heard stories of Valley Forge? I must admit, history was not my forte. But I knew for some reason Valley Forge was a big deal. This is why. Washington's army spent a winter in Hell on Earth. But instead of fire there was snow. In the relentless snow some of them were naked, most of them shoeless, all of them were hungry. They would eat their leather satchels because there was nothing else to eat. "Yes, waiter, how is the leather cooked today?" Can you imagine!!

Moses fasted for 40 days, came down the mountain, threw the tablets, and went right into another 40 day fast.

Joseph spent time in a pit, as a slave, and in prison.

Jesus spent 40 days in the wilderness fasting.

So what is with this history lesson of starvation? And, by the way, doesn't God own the cattle on a thousand hills? What kind of God would let His children starve? And, frankly, if that is what it is all about to follow Him, well, then, drop me off at the next exit. Isn't that what we really think?

Or am I the only one?

Here is where I get vulnerable with you again. (By the way, this was not what I intended when I started this blog. I was just going to show off my children and my dear husband. Tell you guys what is new on the farm. Not let you inside my heart!)

Starving times suck. I know that is not the most appropriate or grammatical way to say that, but can you argue? A season of not having enough is hard. Not enough food, not enough of a relationship with your brother, not enough healing of your past, not enough money, not enough freedom, not enough clothes, not enough of a marriage, not enough forgiveness, not enough faith... it doesn't matter what area you are lacking, it is a starving time. And it sucks.

We try to hide it. We think it is somehow shameful to admit our weakness. So we put on our happy face, and reply with the all too superficial "Oh, I am good!" lie. Meanwhile, we starve! We fill our bowls with empty spoonfuls of what we think we deserve instead of allowing the people in our lives to share from their abundance. What happened to covenant friendships? When did the homes of our hearts become outfitted with such high privacy fences?

We do not wander into starving times. I believe it is an inevitable stop on our journey toward our destinies. These times are not to kill us, but to make us stronger if we will learn the lessons we are there to learn. The Pilgrims, Puritans, Washington's army, and every other person that has ever been through a starving time has learned to come together in a way they could not have done by any other means.

Instead of lamenting or berating starving times, what if we embraced them? I have faith that our starving time right now is not permanent. Eric and I have been through enough of these times now that once I realize what is going on, I actually say "Thank You, Lord". I hate it as much as the next person, but I know that in the end, I would not have wanted it any other way.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

My dream

Did I really call this thing "undistracted"? Eric laughed when I told him! You probably all did. Confessions first. I feel very vulnerable. Like you are reading my journal or something...

I want to start with something the Lord gave me the other that has totally shifted the paradigm of my expectations and my mentality. I had a dream the other night that was so profound, I find myself telling everyone that will listen. So of course, I'll tell you.

Josiah and I were in a life raft in the middle of the ocean. The situation was dire, and I knew we had to figure out how to eat. Somehow. The best plan I could come up with was to reach in the water and grab a fish that was swimming by with my bare hands. Of course it would be a miracle for a fish to swim that close, but I do believe in miracles. As I was looking into the depths of the sea waiting for a fish to swim by, a fish jumped out of the water and right into our boat...

My idea of a miracle was for me to still do the work. I would have to reach in and grab the fish. As much as I was praying for a miracle, it never occurred to me to pray for a fish to jump into the boat. It never even occurred to me to THINK about that.

Thus my paradigm shift.

My idea of Jesus (before this dream) was so small. I know He wants to prosper us (but we struggle to make ends meet). I know He wants to heal us (but Josiah still manifests symptoms of a disease). I feel like the things I can see in our lives right now are so often floating in a life boat in the middle of the ocean. I used to wonder if He even noticed... I have moved past that to actually believing that not only does He notice, but that He will perform a miracle on my behalf. But after that dream, my prayers have changed to "teach me how to think like You". In the few days since my dream, I don't think He wants me to go fishing for a miracle (provision, healing, peace!). I kind of think He wants to just give it to me.

What would our lives be like if the next time we are stranded in the middle of nowhere with no help in sight instead of lamenting or complaining or even believing for the impossible, we actually EXPECTED it. Not a selfish expectation, but an expectation that my children have that I will provide them with everything they need and more! It never occurs to them that I would do it any other way. Why do we think God would?

My challenge to you is this: what situation do you need a fish to jump into? Try asking God for His logic. What is His idea of a miracle? ... and then let me know what happens.