Monday, December 10, 2012

Lessons You Just Think You've Learned

Today the girls and I had the second week of our own makeshift advent. We colored a "Love" ornament and read about the coming of God's special baby. We have been talking about Christmas in America during other time periods, and today we started talking about how other countries celebrate the holiday. We've talked about giving through Compassion's Christmas Gift Catalog and have picked our gift, talking about the difference just a little can make to someone who has much less than we do.

All of this just to point to one truth, really. It's not all about the presents. Not even mostly. Then tonight I decided to close myself in our bedroom and take all their gifts out, making sure everything evened out between them. I looked at all of it laying there and thought, "This isn't enough." Now to my credit, I had forgotten about a few things stashed in other places, but my thinking was still so contrary to what I've been telling my kids for the past month. It's more than enough. And I can't expect them to learn a lesson in their six and three years that I haven't learned in my thirty four.

So tomorrow we will write a letter, not to Santa, but to Jesus. We will tell him the things we want help with. I stole the idea from a blog post I read this morning. This mama will write one, too. We will share our letters and pray for Him to be more than enough.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Let's Go to Peru

I told you I would be back. I wonder if you've given any more thought to checking out those blog posts from the Compassion Bloggers in Peru. Just in case life threw you a curve ball or 12 and you forgot, I thought I would tell you about a few of them.

There's a unique thing happening on this trip. While we are seeing the neediest of Peru through  American eyes, we are also getting to see them through the eyes of children. I don't know that these girls are having a different experience than anyone else. I am willing to bet that they are more willing to be honest about their insecurities. This blog post also has great pictures that you don't want to miss. Love truly transcends language and cultural barriers, and you will see that so clearly.

Shaun Groves examines why we give and reflects on an idea that has been rolling around in my head (and my church) that we are blessed to be a blessing. He also takes us on a tour of a home of a child sponsored through Compassion. I don't want to keep pushing (or maybe I do), but you're really going to want to watch it.

My favorite blog post yet is on the other side of Compassion, an employee. But Marco isn't just any employee, he's a formerly sponsored child. That's right, Compassion does what they say they do. They work to break the cycle of poverty. Marco talks about what got him through hard times, and it was a little hard for me to read that it wasn't the student center or the church, but his sponsor's letters. It made me think about what I've been writing and wonder if there are words I need to be saying more often. "Your words to a child in a poverty are too precious to set aside. Too precious to become buried in a list of to-dos. They were all too precious to Marco"

Here's one last picture, from Shaun Groves' Instagram. This one is a culture shock for me.

Friday, November 09, 2012

Join me?

I keep staring at this empty box, trying to put together, in an organized fashion, what I want to say to you. How to make this relevant to you and worth the time that we all seem to be running short of. In a very real way, it's not. It probably doesn't concern anybody you know or anyone you will ever meet, but if you will, just indulge me for a few minutes and I'll try to keep this short.

Next week, there are a group of bloggers who are taking a trip with Compassion International to Peru. They will meet with workers, families, and children and then go back to their rooms and write down their stories for us. I love these trips because they make the world smaller and give faces to abstract concepts like child development centers, poverty, home, compassion. I plan on sharing some of their stories with you and helping to bring Peru as close as your computer is from your face. At that point, it will be relevant. You will have "met" this group of people. Then you will know how to pray for all of those involved, including yourself. Because after you see and read and pray, I think you will want to know what you can do to help. 

Here's a little bit a different blogger learned while in Peru. Which of these six things speaks the most to you? My favorite is "Hugs and smiles speak volumes when the language doesn’t work so well." I hope you'll join in next week and read the blog posts by the eyes and ears Compassion is bringing to Peru and that you will let me know what stands out to you.

You can access the Compassion Blogger posts here. 

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Just Jump

So it's been a while. There are really no easy excuses for my lack of blogging. Suddenly I just found myself without a voice. Or hearing too many voices might be more accurate. Either way, there just didn't seem to be a point, and I always did hate busy work. There have been quiet moments of clarity in my blogging hiatus, but they have been fleeting. I've asked God several times to just force on me a desire for prayer and reflection, but He's even more stubborn than I am. "Seek me with all your Heart" is always the answer that I get. So I asked for a new heart. I still felt like I was being told to seek. But I just didn't feel like it. How lame is that? This is a recurring crisis, so I know the solution. He and I have had these communication issues before, too many times.

I've had several of those glimpses of clarity this week. From PreK worship to a call to relentlessly surrender, to hanging around at a concert watching little blue Compassion papers pour in and knowing what a blessing it was to be a part in it. I also traded in mindless for mindful yesterday evening and listened to a great podcast from Passion City Church where Louie Giglio said (pardon the paraphrase) that sometimes you might not feel like you are who God says you are, but that's OK because "operational truth" trumps feelings.

Last night, we were getting the girls ready for bed. I told the youngest to hug her daddy good night. She ran to him, looked up at him with those big blue eyes and a smile on her face. He clapped once and held his hands out to her. "Come here." She reached up and jumped to him, and her short little legs barely left the ground. She couldn't jump to him no matter how hard she tried. But it was enough, and he pulled her to him and held her tight. I'm sure this happens all the time in my house, but last night it just hit me. I have to reach up and jump, even if I don't feel like it. It's not going to get me very far and I'm not going to accomplish anything really by doing so. Except that it's going to allow Him to reach down and grab me, pull me close, and hold on. And maybe you read this and say, "Well yeah, of course it's that easy." If you do, please let me in on how you keep sight of that in life's monotony and challenges. But if you're like me and you struggle with this stuff, do yourself a favor and just jump like a three-year-old jumping to her daddy.

"How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!"1 John 3:1

Friday, March 16, 2012

A Day Lived

Today was one of our Fabulous Fun Fridays. We've been trying this most Fridays since New Year's, and sometimes the Fridays really do turn out to be fabulously fun. And some do not. Today was one of the days where I really fought against the urge to just live in "survival mode", something that is becoming more and more of a habit for me. The difference was I had made promises, showed my hand a few days early. And wouldn't you know that kids have much better memories for things you tell them that you are going to do than they do for things you tell them to do.

So I drank coffee and pretended that I wasn't drained from a night of being awakened by both children at the end of a week of middle-of-the-night Mama calls, then created just a little bit of leprechaun mischief. We made shamrocks and read stories, talked about pots of gold, rainbows, and Ireland's green rolling hills. Rainbow cupcakes were made (more tedious than I realized), decorated, and consumed. There was worship with Matt Redman while I cleaned the kitchen. But the day wasn't perfect. Potty training accidents happened and there was a three-year-old covered in washable markers. There were sibling squabbles and forgotten dinner ingredients.

A lot happened, but the day was most definitely experienced and lived, and not one that I just "made it through". There's a part of me that feels like it has been hibernating these past few months. I hope that there are many more of these to come, that this marks an awakening in me.

Friday, March 02, 2012

It's been one of those days . . .

You know those days that you plan and replan just to get the most fun out of them, but they still just somehow seem to go horribly wrong? This has been one of those days. From running late and missing almost all of the story time that I've been talking up all week, to the two bloody five-year-old knees, to the three-year-old's forgotten elevator phobia, to the busted gallon of milk to the whiny children who just "have nothing to do" in their house chock full of toys and just want to go swimming on the second day of March, it has just been one of those days. And I look on this blog and see that it has apparently been one of those months, too, since I have been MIA since the end of January. I could add that to the guilt pile, but that would just be silly.

So I sit and wonder what decisions I could have made to make the day run more smoothly. And there are some things. I could have gone to the store last night instead of this morning. We could have skipped making the Cat in the Hat hats, but that was supposed to be part of the fun. I could have let them go swimming in the bathtub. But some of the things that happen, just simply happened due to no fault of my own. They just happened because that's how life is. I just need to learn to deal with it better. And to remember that there were several really good days this month and a trip to Kroger where I didn't have to make a single threat this week. We've had days full of watching birds pour into our backyard and squirrel turf wars that have had me doubled over laughing. I just have to put down the binoculars on days like today and look at not just today, but all the days around it. It really does all come down to gratitude, and whether or not I choose to do it. I have to get back out of survival mode . . . again and start living, knowing that days like today will still happen, but I can decide how to handle them and how to remember them.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Looking Forward . . . a few months anyway

This April, Sonny and I have an opportunity to do something we've done separately but never together. We're going on a mission trip to Show Low, Arizona to serve alongside others from our church with the American Indian Christian Mission. I should say that we both have missions experiences, but not with this organization. Therefore, I have very little to share here. What I do have is a lot of excitement and nervous energy to go and be surrounded by people groups who have called out to me since I knew of their existence. And I so look forward to doing it alongside a man who just sees needs and fills them without any fanfare, and often without even being asked and a great group of team members who are as excited as I am.

I did want to leave you with some words from others who have made this trip. The first is from our trip leader and the second is another church leader from a completely different state. I hope you'll take some time to read about these groups' experiences. Then, if you feel led and able, please consider making a contribution to our trip with the little box on the right side of this page. If you can't financially contribute, and even if you can, please pray for our team as God continues to prepare us for the work He has in store for us. Thanks. A LOT.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Looking Back

I think I need to go back to an end of the week review. I think it was good for me to be able to look back and see what we've been through. I also think it was helpful because it made me re-experience some things and not just survive them. A lot of times I feel myself just trying to get through days, just make it through school, to nap time, until Daddy comes home, or to bedtime. It's ridiculous really, when there's so much life to be lived in between, but I still find myself doing it. So this is my list of sorts, just something to catalog the things going on in our lives or inside my head.

- This week has been a slow one, as far as responsibilities outside of the house, so the house should reflect that. But it really doesn't. Kid stuff is everywhere and there's still laundry to wash and floors to clean.

- For Christmas this year, Sonny's grandmother gave the girls a trunk full of dressup clothes. I've been slowly rationing some of these cool gifts just to make the pile less overwhelming, and this week we got it all out. They've had such a good time. But that youngest one, she scares me, the way she can walk around in a floor length gown with high heels and clip on earrings, purse in the crook of her arm.

- We've cut out sugar yet again, and again I'm amazed at the difference that it makes. No acid reflux, no after-lunch dragging, more energy. Maybe this will stick in my mind the next time I want a candy bar.

- Speaking of no sugar, we took the day off of dieting yesterday and had a fun time with it. There was a cookie or two and some white flour pitas. But it was a great time with just the two of us and all of the food was soooo good. It made me want to learn to make spanakopita. I am really enjoying our local Greek restaurant. And I really enjoyed some alone time with my husband. I read an eye-opening article this week about a lot of us moms/wives and it really gave me some things to work on last night.

- We're in the middle of trying to raise money to go on a mission trip to Arizona with our church, and it has come to my attention that I have trust issues. With God, actually. The fundraising part has me a bit stressed, and it shouldn't. A few recent experiences in different areas and my fear that my sphere of influence is no bigger than a penny have taken over these past few days. I realize the ridiculousness of this, but I haven't been able to shake it. It will be a big part of my prayers this week.

- My Kindergartener is making crazy strides in reading. It's blowing my mind sometimes. She's pretty strong in Math and loves a map. But what is really cracking me up is her love of drawing animals. And she's pretty good at it. I'm trying to think of ways to foster this without pushing it on her, so this week I might be doing a little research into that.

So that's a little of our week. I'm sure there were other things that seemed important at the time, but this what still stands out at the end of the week. My goal is for next week to be more productive, but for me to also be more focused on the one thing that's going on at that time.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Love - Where do I start?

This post will contain a lot of links. I won't make it a habit, I promise, but please bear with me. Last week, I almost wrote a blog post titled "Satan Reads My Blog", because it seemed like the only reasonable explanation for the difficult to love week I was having. The kids were having a hard time settling back into a normal routine after holidays and Daddy being home for over a week, and I was having a hard time tolerating everyone and everything. I was really trying hard to be loving to my family, but they just weren't being very cooperative. On Tuesday, I read a post from the Compassion blog written by their president and CEO that led me to believe that my problem was that I should have started with evaluating and working on my love for God before looking at home. Well that made sense. So I decided to shift my focus. I tried to pray more and read the Bible more. I'm not saying that it didn't help at all, but I was still having a hard time not exploding at most of the people in my path (a reaction that really isn't THAT common for me).

This continued for what seemed like weeks but was actually only two days. Then there was a blog post from Shaun Groves where he was reliving a lot of his past and evaluating different parts of his life. Then he said, " I wasn’t a good boy because I was good but because I was scared of being bad. Scared of throwing up, of getting caught, of being talked about, of disappointing." That was me as a kid, too, and I thought it was funny that he had that same trait. It occurred to me that I was still living in some of that. I was trying to love God harder and better, but I was still doing it with my own strength, because I said that this was my goal for this year and obviously I had to start with the most important. I mean, how can I love my family well if I can't love God well.

Fast forward a few days to Sunday and this is where I confess to not paying much attention to the church newsletter this week. Every song we sang was about God's love. The sermon text was John 3:16. God's love. Not mine. Not for Him. Not for my kids or my husband or the people who run me over in Wal-Mart or the developing world. God's love. And sometimes I think he loves us enough to let us have a crappy week and choose the wrong doors to open so we can get to where he wants us. Surely he could have hit me over the head with this truth with some of the songs I had been listening to and the books and Bible passages I've been reading. But He chose to wait. His love is perfect and until I can just dwell in that, I won't be any better at loving the rest of the world.