Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Change is sometimes hard!

Tonight, John and I made a huge change in our lives.

We sat at a table with about 15 co-laborers from our church. People that we've "done" life with, the good, the bad, and the ugly. People who have loved us and whom we have loved, John's fellow elders and our pastors.. We sat and looked them in the eye and told them we were leaving the church. And it was hard. Very hard.

The call began a few years ago. The gentle whisper that maybe we had gotten stale? Maybe we had gotten lackadaisical?  But we closed our ears and tried to assure ourselves that we were still vibrant. We still had ministries to accomplish and lots and lots of friends. We both felt it and we both resisted it.

The years went on and our ministries began to change. The reason I gave for not wanting to move on, was changed, and I wasn't needed. We thought, we'll just look and see what's out there. We looked and looked. Everywhere we went, there was something missing or something that didn't fit our needs.  Nope, we justified,  must not be God's calling, we can just stay where we are comfortable. (Or so we thought).

Friends invited us to visit their church. We had really resisted this church because it was a long drive from our house. We decided to give it a try anyway. We really liked several things about the church, but it was still too far, we reasoned.

John, Jr came home for the summer. After visiting this church, he told me that he would get up early and go to church with me, if I would go to this new to us church. Of course, I told him I would go. As I attended week after week, I noticed a zeal returning. I noticed that I was learning new spiritual principles and applying them to my daily life. I actually looked forward to church on Saturday evenings. If I wasn't going, I was disappointed, feeling like I was missing out.  The little kids loved going and could come and tell me what they had talked about.

John visited with me several times. The same zeal caught him by surprise. Finally we had the conversation that maybe we needed to make the church change. But, we continued to resist it. How could we hurt those we love? How could we leave our familiar surroundings? How could we leave the reputations we had built over the 24 years we've been here? We didn't know how we could do it, or why God would desire us to?

In Bible Study Fellowship, we were studying Acts. When we studied about Paul and Barnabas, I knew that I had my answer. Paul and Barnabas disagreed about who to take on their next journey, so they took two different men and split company. Paul went to one place and Barnabas went to another. It seemed like a harmful thing, but because of the split,  two places, instead of one, heard the Gospel. At this point, I knew that I had confirmation that we were going to be leaving. I waited for John to get a word from the Lord. I didn't want it to be my idea, I wanted it to be God's idea.

We dedicated the month of March to prayer about whether we should leave. Two weeks ago, John was asking God to speak to him. He opened his Bible to his daily reading, Isaiah 30:21:

'Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it."'(NIV)

That was it. God had spoken, we both had confirmation that we were to leave. We have no idea what God is going to do, or what job He has for us.  We are walking and trusting God to reveal where we need to go. I read somewhere, "God can't direct you if you aren't moving, or willing to move." So we are moving. We will start at the new church and see if God directs us to stay a while.

Back to the hard. Our pastors and fellow Elders were wonderful. They prayed over us and everyone wished us well, expressing their love for us.  I have to admit, I'm scared, pretty close to being petrified! These folks have always been there for us. But, maybe that is part of the problem? Maybe somewhere along this journey I began to trust in my church relationships, and not in my God? Maybe God has a need in some church that we know how to meet? I really don't know. But we are walking by faith and praying for God to direct our paths.

 So, while I'm grieving, I'm also excited! There is a newness, freshness and renewed dependence on my God. And that's what it's all about, isn't it?


Monday, March 26, 2012

The Negotiator

     Today when I told the kids it was time for nap time. Abbey began to ply her trade as a negotiator. She said, "Can I rest for five minutes today?" (She doesn't have to go to sleep these days, but she does have to have a "quiet time or rest time").
     So I replied, "No, you have to stay in your room for  more than five minutes."
     She came back and looking like she was making a good deal, and I should be pleased, she said, " Ok, how about six?"

Aren't kids just plain fun sometimes?


Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Loaded Words

For so long, we worried and stressed about Elijah's speech. He has made great strides and his speech, while still a little delayed,  isn't far from normal for his age. Which is a good thing, because his speech is certainly a weapon that he knows how to use to manipulate me.

Yesterday he was being a pill. I'd had all the "pilliness", (don't know if it is a word, but it should be), that I could take. I took him and started to put him in "time out" in the bathroom. He looked at me and quickly blurted out, "Mommy, you're pretty!" Smart fellow, huh? And for a moment, it almost worked! I had to stifle the instinctive, "Aww, thank you, honey!", and curtly reply, "Thank you, Elijah, but you still need to go to time out."

He's even tried his wily ways with Abbey. The other day she had had enough of little brother interference in her things  and she told him to vacate her room. I heard him say, "But, Abbey, I love you!" If she was phased by this heartfelt declaration, she didn't show it. She just escorted him to the threshold and shut the door in his face!

I've got to watch this little one, his words are loaded and he certainly knows how to use them!


Thursday, March 15, 2012

Encouragement and Reminder

I subscribe to Proverbs 31 Ministries' daily devotions. The one for today, was a great reminder to me as a Mom.  All of my children, from time to time, have made me question my ability to be a good Mom. All of them, in some instances, have chosen to be incredibly stubborn, wanting to do things their own way. (Hmmm, wonder who they learned that from?) All of them have occasionally made me beg God for wisdom as I deal with their "willfullness" and refusal to submit to what I think would reflect better on me as a Mom.

This article reminded me that my kids aren't little plastic toy soldiers, all molded the same, stuck in the same position,  just waiting for me to place them where I want them. Nope, they are uniquely gifted by God with traits and abilities to accomplish the design he has for their lives. My job is to love them unconditionally, keep them safe, be a good example and lead them to the one that does all those things perfectly---their heavenly Father! Not that I'm a great success in all those areas, all the time, but He will make up for my weaknesses.

Once I realize this and choose to accept this, I'm free to enjoy my blessings, and enjoy sharing with them the  journey to what God has designed  them (and me)  to be.

March 15, 2012
I Don’t Want to Raise a Good Child
Lysa TerKeurst

“Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.” Proverbs 22:6 (NIV 1984)

My daughter, Hope, is a senior this year. And she decided her senior year should be adventurous and a little out of the “normal” box. A lot out of the box actually.
She withdrew from traditional school. Applied with the state to homeschool. Enrolled in online college courses that would allow her to get both high school and college credit simultaneously. And planned to spend the month of January serving in Nicaragua doing missions.
This didn’t surprise me really. Hope has always liked charting her own course. This thrills me now. But it didn’t thrill me so much in the early years of raising this strong-spirited child.
When she was really little I was scared to death I was the world’s worst mom, because Hope was never one to be contained. And I honestly thought all her extra tenacity was a sign of my poor mothering.
One day I took her to the mall to meet several of my friends with toddlers to grab lunch. All of their kids sat quietly eating cheerios in their strollers. They shined their halos and quoted Bible verses and used tissues to wipe their notes.
Not Hope.
She was infuriated by my insistence she stay in her stroller. So, when I turned away for a split second to place our lunch order, she wiggled free. She stripped off all her clothes. She ran across the food court. And jumped in the fountain in the center of the mall.
Really, nothing makes the mother of a toddler feel more incapable than seeing her naked child splashing in the mall fountain. Except maybe that toddler refusing to get out and said mother having to also get into the fountain.
I cried all the way home.
Not because of what she’d done that day. But rather because of how she was everyday. So determined. So independent. So insistent.
I would beg God to show me how to raise a good child. One that stayed in her stroller. One that other people would comment about how wonderfully behaved she was. One that made me look good.
But God seemed so slow to answer those prayers. So, over the years, I changed my prayer. “God help me to raise Hope to be who You want her to be.” Emphasis on, “God HELP ME!”
I think I changed my prayers for her because God started to change my heart. I sensed He had a different plan in mind for my mothering of Hope.
Maybe God’s goal wasn’t for me to raise a good rule-following child. God’s goal was for me to raise a God-following adult. An adult just determined and independent and insistent enough to fulfill a purpose He had in mind all along.

Today’s key verse reminds us we are training children so that when they are old they will not turn away from Biblical principles, but rather implement them in their life-long pursuit of God. Remember, the things that might aggravate you about your child today, might be the very things when matured that make them great for God’s kingdom tomorrow.
I’ve certainly seen this in raising Hope.
I don’t know what mama needs to hear this today. But let me encourage you from the bottom of my heart with three simple mothering perspectives you must hang on to:
1. Don’t take too much credit for their good.
2. Don’t take too much credit for their bad.
3. Don’t try to raise a good child. Raise a God-following adult.

And all the mamas of fountain dancing children said, “Amen!”

Amen and Amen !!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Daniel's last high school swimming season

Here's a video of Daniel accepting his award for MVP of his high school team.
***Be sure to scroll down and pause or stop the playlist music.***

So proud of Daniel. He's worked extremely hard, not only in the pool, but in the classroom. His schedule has been very difficult for a senior year. In addition to winning MVP, he's been awarded Academic All American, All Conference and Academic All Conference.

The college game is almost over, he's been accepted to the two schools that were recruiting him. He has one final meet-Jr. Nationals in Orlando. His times at this meet will likely determine where he will go, because the times will determine how much scholarship he receives.  He's beyond ready to know that part of his future.

Here are some pictures of my swimmer boy doing what he loves!

He's the one in the middle of the two "M" caps
Get ready
get set

and go!!

Poster pose
The Senior swimmers, yes, he was the only male!
I'm really a little sad to see this part end. It's true that swim meets can be lessons in boredom and having to entertain two little ones, isn't always easy. But, it always did my heart good to see my boy do well, and be there for him when he didn't do as well as he would have liked.The knowledge that he will probably be at a lot of swim meets without me next year made me appreciate being there this year.


Saturday, March 10, 2012

The boy loves to pray!

 If you ever get the chance to eat dinner with our family, and you want to say the blessing, you better jump in quick, because if you don't, you will be competing with Elijah to see who can pray the loudest (my money is on him). When we went to dinner a month ago at some friends' house, I was a little taken aback when we sat down to eat and immediately Elijah began to pray! I was a bit embarrassed that he just took over the meal's blessing without asking if he could, but that is Elijah's gift. This boy loves to pray!

He is very quick to offer a prayer whenever we see an ambulance. We were at a department store the other day and they were wheeling a woman out to a waiting ambulance. As we were leaving the store, Elijah asked me about the woman. I told him that either she had an accident or was sick. Without any prompting, he said, "We need to pray for her!" He prayed for that "store woman" for several days afterward.

He prays for his siblings and always includes their pets. Anna, Jamie and Rocko, Millie and Tillie, (then he informs God  that he doesn't like Tillie); Beth, Greg and Bella; Nana, Grandaddy and Mack; and, of course, our own muts, Layla and Lillie.

A good friend of ours had a hospital scare last week. When Elijah saw him a couple of days later,  he peppered him with many questions and then informed our friend that he had prayed for him!

I'm so grateful for this little man's heart! I can't wait to see how God is going to use this gift in his life as he grows older.


Tuesday, March 6, 2012

And she's off....

To her first sleepover

After many days of, "Is today the day for Lottie's birthday sleepover?" excitedly being asked by Abbey, the day finally did arrive. She woke up that morning and promptly woke me up, telling me that she needed to pack her sleeping bag. The sleepover started at 5:30 pm, but, of course, we needed to pack at 7:15 am! 

During the day we did see a little vulnerability. She wanted to know if she could call if she got afraid. "Of course, you can." We told her. "Well, what if it is in the middle of the night?" We assured her that no matter the time, we would come quickly to get her if she needed us to. With that assurance, she was off!

She did just fine and stayed the entire night, even sleeping 8 hours.  We had to pick her up early, because of Daniel's swim meet. She came running down the lawn to greet me in the morning, filled with stories of her very first "sleep over".


Saturday, March 3, 2012

I bet He laughed out loud

Yesterday I saw some just beginning to bloom daffodils. Knowing Abbey's penchant for picking all the flowers she sees, I pointed them out to her and reminded her that they needed to stay attached to the ground to grow into big flowers. We admired the yellow poseys and she asked, "Why did God make flowers?" I told her that it was his choice, and I really didn't know, but I think that he made them for us to enjoy and to be useful to the bees. We talked about our colorful world and how God could have made everything black and white, but for our pleasure he made some beautiful colors.

Later that day Abbey and Elijah are playing in the backyard. I hear, "Mommy, come here quick!" Now  I hear this phrase several times a day and it usually isn't an emergency, but knowing my youngest daughter I usually come rather quickly, because you just never know. So I rush outside, (or as fast as this peg leg gait will take me) They had discovered some of those tiny wild violets were growing on the ground. We admired them together and I started back into the house. All of a sudden both kids, at the top of their lungs, yell, "Thank you God, for making color flowers!" I turn and they both have their faces upturned and are projecting their words to the sky.

I'm quite certain that God joined me in grinning from ear to ear when he heard that beautiful praise and thanks out of the mouths of mere babes!