Archive for the 'Stories I Want to Remember' Category

18
Jan
14

Change

We recently decided we needed a change in our bedroom situation.  Jesse (17) and Jeremiah (9) shared a room.  Jonah (16) and Jake (15)  shared the other bedroom. When we moved into our house over 6 years ago, we let the kids pick out what color they wanted their rooms to be.  Jonah and Jake, who are both artistic, were in the 3rd and 4th grades and wanted a rain forest themed room and wanted to draw animals on their walls. I was cool with them drawing on their walls until I fell in love with the blue paint and the green paint (white chair rail in the middle) that I helped them choose, and then I didn’t want them to “mess” up their walls. Jonah wanted to draw vines all over the place, and Jake would have drawn amazing animals.

I prayed last night about the switch in rooms. One of my sons was having a hard time adjusting to the change, and I prayed that it would bring unity and harmony to my teenage sons, and that they would accept each other into the boys’ club with no one left out. (Jesse told me not to call it the boys’ club because that sounded weird.)

Jonah and Jeremiah are now sharing a room. We’re in the middle of painting and moving things around…most of their things are sitting in the hall right now. Jonah likes cool; he likes trendy, and he wanted a rust orange color for his room. I found a burnt orange/brown color on the mistint table at Lowe’s, and he said that would be fine. As he, Julia and I were painting his room, I don’t know if the color that somebody didn’t want was exactly what Jonah really had in mind, but as I finished up tonight, he walked in and called it “pumpkin mocha.” Which means cool. And I’m beyond excited that he likes it so much. He said it looked like a coffee shop. And Jeremiah, of course, he’s 9 and doesn’t really care what color the room is (unless it’s blue…my kids have gotten it into their minds that blue rooms look like nurseries).

Monday after we finish school, we will paint Jesse and Jake’s room gray. Jesse originally wanted “bamboo” like our rec room; Jake wanted “black.” We all compromised and went with “sable grey.” I think it will be nice. Man-cavish. No white chair rail.

I know there will be adjustments. Jesse likes to tease and throw playing cards at people (we watched some movie where the guy threw cards; Jesse thought it was cool and figured out how to do it; Julia and Jeremiah have taken it up as well); Jake likes to be left alone most of the time (I guess he figured Jesse’s throwing cards beat Jonah’s non-stop singing).  Jeremiah doesn’t know what to think because Jesse’s very gentle with him and treats him like a kid brother. But Jeremiah really looks up to Jonah and thinks Jonah is an amazing singer and actor; Jonah has an incredible opportunity to love.

We’re very much in transition. The rooms are a wreck, but my teenage boys are upstairs lying on their beds all watching a movie together, and my heart feels like it could burst.

They’re together. I’m kind of jealous of all that time they’ll spend just hanging out and all the amazing conversations they will have, Jesse getting to bond with Jake kind of for the first time, and Jonah hanging out in their room with them because he’s an extrovert and won’t mind barging in. I’m trying to figure out a way to get the love seat in there because I want to hang out in there too. Teenage boys are really funny.

I’m praying that the change will be good for everyone. I’m praying that kindness will abound, and that they would enjoy the time; it goes by so fast. Change happens. And I don’t want them to miss opportunities to know each other, to love each other, to embrace their differences.

And another thing, I would let my kids draw on their walls now…no matter how cool the paint color. 🙂

20
Nov
13

taking it all in

We recently went to the church that is in our neighborhood for Sunday morning. As I was preparing everything the night before and making sure my younger children took baths, I began noticing the sacredness of it all, even down to ironing clothes. And in my preparation, I felt like I was standing on holy ground. I had this lightness in my soul, my spirit. I felt open to receiving whatever God has for me and for my family.

And the next morning, everyone got up early, which is unusual in our house. We all hung out for a while around our dining room table with the gas logs flaming in the background.  I noticed it all: my laughing, talking teenage boys dressed in their clean jeans and polo shirts; my youngest Jeremiah just enjoying being part of it all,  and cool Julia dressed in her khaki cargo pants and white shirt with the pink lace around the bottom and her older brother’s shoes that we had found in the attic for her to wear for Halloween (she dressed as a gangster) that she has now adopted as her own. It was all good.

I took in all the joking and the excited talking and light-heartedness and breathed in deeply, holding it within my heart. It was a sacred, holy moment for me in the midst of our family.  It felt like my insides were smiling, and contentment just passed over me in waves.  We all wanted to be together in that moment.

After a while, I realized we needed to eat, so I began making biscuits and eggs, and as I rolled out dough, my fingers and hands sticky with it; that, too, felt lovely and divine. Loving my family by fixing food with my hands felt like standing in God’s presence. It was beautiful. I could taste the excitement for what is and what will be. And even as the morning rolled on, it had a sweetness to it. It wasn’t the craziness that usually goes along with Sunday mornings trying to get everyone out the door (you know what I’m talking about).

For me, noticing the sacred means slowing down and paying attention. It means being fully present, even in all the tiny moments in between the big change of life ones. It’s being fully alive and fully engaged in the life that I’ve been given. And being grateful for every part of it. Eugene Peterson says that “to eyes that see, every bush is a burning bush.”

Right now, as I stand in the present, I’m not worrying about the next hour, the next day, the next month, the next year. I’m enjoying the now and seeing the sacred in it all.

14
Mar
12

Oh, Brother

We recently went out to eat for Jeff’s birthday. We went to one of those all you can eat buffets where we enjoyed our time and ate a whole lot of food. During our trip, Jonah, who is 14, went to use the bathroom. Not realizing that Jonah went to use the bathroom, Jesse, 15, also went to use the bathroom when Jesse saw Jonah’s shoes under the bathroom stall. Jesse told us all back at the table, “I didn’t even have to formulate a plan. I already knew what I was going to do.”

So here was the “already formulated plan” that was in Jesse’s head: Jesse went into the stall next to Jonah and started throwing toilet paper over the top of the stall onto Jonah. Jonah did not realize that Jesse was even in the bathroom and got nervous that some stranger was throwing toilet paper over on him. So Jonah started kicking the tp back under the stall with his shoe.  Jesse did not get the result that he was looking for with the toilet paper (it lacked heaviness), so he wet the tp down using clean toilet water (gross) and then threw it into Jonah’s stall. Still, Jonah did not realize until he came back to the table that the person who caused his bathroom agony was his beloved older brother.

A couple of days later, brotherly love came around again when Jesse took Jonah and Jake’s doorknob off and switched it around, so that the lock was on the outside of the door, making it to where he could lock them in their room from the outside.  Apparently, Jonah and Jake did not like being locked in their own room and started yelling, so Jesse switched the doorknob back around before anyone else was the wiser.  To be honest, his misplaced creativity boggles my mind.

But, apparently, this is how Jesse shows love. And he often goes too far.  He tickles Jeremiah until he can’t breathe and teases Julia until she really can’t handle it anymore and sometimes wrestles Jake to the floor, which is really funny to watch two big kids with long legs and long arms rolling around on the floor laughing.

We just watched the movie Warrior which I really liked. One of the themes was families but more specifically brothers. It was about love and anger, betrayal and forgiveness. I loved how they beat the crap out of each other, only to compassionately walk with each other in the end. The younger brother was finally willing to let go when he heard his older brother say that he loved him, and that was when the  I got tears in my eyes and a really large lump in my throat, like I sometimes do around here.

Jesse recently got his air soft gun out and threatened Jonah and Jake with it. I thought everyone was having a good time. Jeff had the hose out, trying to soak Jesse with it, and I was laughing my head off. Jonah and Jake were way out in the backyard, while Jesse stood near the house shooting his air soft gun in their direction (it can’t shoot that far, and they both wear glasses, so I thought they were okay). They weren’t okay. In fact, they were angry and scared. At some point, Jesse realized that they weren’t okay with his game.  Without saying anything, he walked inside and put away his weapon. Walking away at that moment was Jesse loving his brothers; it was Jesse showing compassion. And that is the way of this brother.

04
Mar
12

The Best Worst Birthday Ever

Recently my third son (which shall remain nameless) turned 13, which to me is such a big deal age. Entering teenage-hood. Big stuff. But this kid doesn’t like any attention drawn to him ever. He’d just rather blend in with his environment. He doesn’t really like to be hugged or touched and acts like he’s being electrically shocked when he is touched. I hug him anyway and sometimes make him hug me back just because I believe everyone needs physical touch. And we play the game of him being electrocuted by my touch. I’m cool with that.

But, a week before said son’s birthday, he started saying that he didn’t want to have a birthday. Once again, I’m sorry, he’s going to have a birthday. This is just how it is. We celebrate birthdays. They’re important, no matter what age. And it wasn’t like I invited 50 people to come celebrate. We have a very simple birthday with our immediate family only. We have cake and ice cream, sing happy birthday, and open presents. That’s it. No big deal. Really.

So I backed off a little in talking about his birthday and bought a few presents anyway, even though he said he didn’t want presents or cake or ice cream. What kid doesn’t want presents or cake or ice cream? I understand not wanting to have people watch you open your presents or having a short song dedicated to your day, but it only happens once a year, so really, just suck it up.

So “the day” arrives. And it slowly unraveled. Cake and ice cream and singing did not go well. I thought I remained calm and didn’t push, not all that hard anyway. It was kind of like a big joke to me, for a while, thinking that he would eventually give in, act like he was being electrocuted and then open his presents.

His presents sat on the piano bench all day long. Second son could hardly stand it because he is such a party person. He lives to plan parties and can’t understand why someone would choose to not open their presents. So second son tried to entice third son by carrying presents around and putting them in close proximity to him.

It didn’t work. He still didn’t want to open his presents or eat his cake and ice cream that we had all gotten into several hours earlier. I had no idea this child was this stubborn. Or really, that I cared that much.

I finally lost it. Badly. Very, very badly. He had finally gotten to me, and I exploded in anger and unwrapped his presents and showered the wrapping paper all over the floor and put his now-opened presents back on the piano bench. And then, I proceeded to cry my eyes out, because I don’t know how in the world to love this kid, to really, really love him. He had just broken my heart, and I realized how rash and angry and how wrong I had been and how I had made his birthday about me.

He came downstairs and saw his opened presents sitting on the bench. And ran back up the stairs, crying like a wounded animal.

At this point, all I wanted to do was crawl in my bed and go to sleep and forget this day forever.

But somehow, I gathered the courage to go talk to third son. He was crying on his bed with his blanket covering his head, and I managed to blubber out how sorry I was that I opened his presents and how much I really do love him. I felt like he had rejected our attempts to love him, as poor as they were. And both of us just kept crying. And I’m not really sure what happened at that moment. But something broke in me. And whatever it was, that same thing also seemed to break in him.

I hauled his opened presents up to his room, and he pulled them out of the bag that I had stuffed them in and looked at each one of them and said, “Thanks, Mom.” They were all the kinds of things my third son loves.

I just stood there with my heart so gushy with all the sadness and the happiness and the love I didn’t think it was capable of after such a day. I had made such a mess of his 13th birthday, but we’d seemed to have made a break through in our moment of brokenness, making each of us perhaps realize that it wasn’t all about him or all about me. I’m afraid, it may be his most memorable birthday. It will definitely be mine.

A few days later, his grandparents brought over a cake and wanted to take us all out for pizza. And they made such a big deal over third son, I thought that he might crack under all the pressure, but he actually smiled shyly and took it. I wouldn’t say that he enjoyed being the center of attention, but he endured it in a very brave kind of way that if we hadn’t had his hell-ish birthday of confusion and clarity, he might never have withstood it. But he did great, even down to the singing of “Happy Birthday” in the middle of Pizza Hut. Wow.

03
Mar
12

Driving Miss Crazy

Jesse, my 15 year old, is now driving. He’s pretty good. He knows he’s not when I grab the van door and the armrest at the same time and hold tightly until my knuckles turn white.

This letting go stuff is hard. Really hard.

With Jesse learning how to drive and living in Nashville, where roads are busy most of the time, it feels a little out of control, and it makes me want to hold my breath a little. You either drive on interstates or back roads, and I think some of the back roads are scarier than any highway, especially with someone just learning to drive. It makes me think about all these student drivers on the roads and freak out just a little. And knowing that I have four more kids to go through this driving thing with.

When I was learning to drive, I drove around our little city of Anderson, no big deal (okay, for me looking back it was no big deal, but I’m sure there were times when my dad wanted to hyperventilate, and my mom was never involved in that process, lucky her). Ten minutes pretty much covered where you wanted to go. My dad, in teaching me how to drive, had me drive routinely to the DMV so that I could practice my parallel parking, which, to this day, I never would have passed if he hadn’t figured out that I could line up the middle of our car with a telephone pole across the street. I still don’t parallel park. Mainly because there’s no telephone pole. And for me, parking in general can be a problem. Good thing I like to walk.

My dad never let me drive on the interstate, which was safest for everyone involved. He did, however, let me drive in the Everglades in Florida when we went on vacation down there one summer. I guess he figured the worst that could happen would be for me to hit some kind of wildlife. I didn’t cause any injuries or fatalities, but, I did manage to go the wrong way, which sent us an hour in the wrong direction. Things have not changed much with me. I now have my beloved GPS, so direction doesn’t matter so much.

Jeff and I approach the driving thing a little differently. He doesn’t talk to Jesse at all unless to give some kind of warning, like “brake, brake, Brake, BRAKE.”  And I’m the running commentary, all the while pointing out the mailboxes that he’s getting way too close to as well as the oncoming traffic and telling him not to roll his stop signs (which I consequently did and failed my first driver’s test at the very first stop sign coming out of the DMV) but also telling him to “gun it” because it’s hard to see around some corners (crazy Tennessee back roads), only to tell him to slow down again because I don’t particularly like the combination of steep hills and old vans and speed so much. But I’m also throwing those “When I was learning to drive” stories in there too for comic relief. Jesse tries to listen to the radio while driving with me, which he doesn’t try with Jeff. Jeff says he doesn’t need to be distracted. Which makes me the fun parent.

I kind of like to drive, and it’s been hard for me to give up my driving time for this kid of mine, only to be scared half to death a few times.This doesn’t sound like a good exchange. But this parenting thing, it’s very rarely an equal exchange. I’m going to have another student driver next year and then again the next year after that. I may not ever get to drive or breathe again.

I’m enjoying my family more than ever these days. Some days I really wish I could freeze time, just for the moment. But probably not when Jesse’s behind the wheel. Not yet anyway. Right now, I just have to remember to exhale and not hold onto the door quite so tightly.

08
Dec
11

Kids, Diapers, and Stand-Out Moments

When you have really little kids, older moms like to say, “Enjoy them while they’re young, because you’re going to blink, and blah, blah, blah,” and I know I smiled sweetly and rolled my eyes, but in my brain I was thinking, “Are you crazy? I would give anything to have my kids grow up faster so I can have ten minutes in the bathroom to myself without someone beating down the door.”

Come to think of it, they still beat on my door while I’m in the bathroom. That really hasn’t changed all that much. But there are definitely some things that have changed; some things that made me giddy and had me jumping up and down.

Here are a of those few stand-out moments for me:

1. A few years back, on a trip I realized there were no more diapers to change. NO ONE WAS IN DIAPERS ANYMORE. I no longer had to try to change a wiggly little kid with a dirty diaper on a van seat, trying to figure out where to put all those used wipes, while trying not to get poop all over the van. And after 11 years of diapers with one year off around year 7, I was ecstatic.

2. But, even though there were no more diapers to change, there was still poop to deal with because there is the butt-wiping that takes place for a good while longer. But the day I woke up and realized I wasn’t wiping anyone else’s behind was a good day, a very good day. It’s the kind of thing that catches you off guard. It just kind of happens, and then you notice you have been freed and the freedom is, I must say, rather crazy good. So much so that you want to start telling everyone you see.

3. A while back, when my in-laws took us out to eat, I noticed I didn’t have to order off the menu for anyone. They all read and can figure out what they want. And not only that,  I’m not cutting stuff up anymore. I noticed Julia picked up her hunk of steak and chowed down. But you know what? She’s happy; I’m happy. She’ll probably eventually learn not to do that.

4. I don’t have to lock cabinets afraid that someone might drink something they’re not supposed to drink or down too many gummy vitamins. I haven’t had to call poison control for some time. That’s always nice.

5. No one has played in the toilet or put things in it that don’t belong, like say, toys or toothbrushes for a good long while. Now, they don’t always flush and since I have four boys, my bathroom is rarely clean and the seat inevitably stays up. But, no toilets have had to be completely taken apart to retrieve toothbrushes.

And, here are some really good things that stand out these days:

1. Talking. We sit around and talk a lot, which I love, since quality time is my thing. We talk about everything. Into the wee hours of the night sometimes. Like last night, my two oldest just didn’t want to go to bed. At 1  o’clock in the morning, they followed Jeff and me into our room, exhausted, but wanting to be around us some more. Very cool.

2. We play games and do puzzles. I have a few kids who really like to play games and connect in that way when connecting is sometimes difficult in other ways.

4. We watch movies that I have loved sharing with my kids, which inevitably evokes more conversation since we have to analyze everything to death.

5. We laugh and joke and have fun. And, yes, sometimes at other people’s expense. For Thanksgiving, we went to see my family. Julia got carsick and threw up. Jeff insisted that her brother Jonah, sitting beside her, hold the trash can while she was vomiting so her hands could be free to hold her hair out of the way. Her brother Jake, sitting in front of her, was holding his ears so he wouldn’t hear her vomiting. And Jesse (biggest brother, sitting as far away from her) and I were laughing, while Jeff continued to drive and insist that Jonah keep holding that trash can. I’m just not sure what Jeremiah was doing because I was laughing too hard at Jake and Jonah to notice. We finally came to a gas station, where we all tumbled out of the car. We all talked and laughed and replayed the whole thing again while Jeff washed the trash can out in nasty, leafy, drainage water. More laughter, of course. And then we all piled back into the van and continued on.  Julia was fine, by the way.

6. We camp. And even though a couple of them aren’t that fond of it, they humor me. And we have a good time. Together. And even though we’re together all the time (due to homeschooling) we’re really together in a tent, out in nature, and it’s great most of the time. Unless you bring one scooter and have four kids who all want to ride that one scooter at the same time, the whole time. Will be camping. Won’t be bringing the scooter.

7. They run around like a bunch of crazy lunatics who are completely out of control. And they’re big; they could knock each other and me down, and it would hurt. A lot. They have no common sense when they get like this, and their hearing becomes impaired (I read this in a magazine somewhere), so I get out of the way and laugh. And say things like, “Watch your brother’s neck” and “Please, don’t drop him on his head.” Even though I know they can’t hear me between my laughing and their lack of sense.

So for any moms out there who still have little ones, they really won’t stay that way long, (blah, blah, blah), hang on and enjoy. And please, by all means, share your stand-out moments.

22
Mar
11

Living on a Prayer

Jehovah Jireh…the Lord Will Provide.

This has been our story for over a year now. Actually, it’s been our story our whole lives, but we haven’t recognized it, not really, until this past year.

I honestly didn’t think that this kind of living was possible, where you pray and God provides either the money or the means. I mean, I always knew He provided little things along the way, but not like this.

I wouldn’t call it living by faith so much, because truly at times I had none. I feel like I spent much of the year walking around in angry confusion. I fought hard against being truly dependent on Him.

A year ago, If  I had been told that we would still be living like this, I would have laughed and cried and maybe thrown a fit or something. Believe me, I’ve thrown many along the way…fits, that is. Many have been aimed at Jeff, but the One I’m really fighting with is God.

That’s what it comes down to. I don’t really want to admit that, but there it is. If I really believe that He is in control of everything, He could have fixed this for me, and He’s done the opposite. He’s gone after the very idols I clung to and has ripped them away. Greed. Security. Safety.

I recently read a book about George Muller, and I was astounded at the way Muller lived His life, praying about everything and allowing God to lead him.

Muller ran an orphanage for the children in England in the 1800’s and trusted that God would provide for his needs and also the children’s needs (some 10,000 children over the course of his life). One lady in England said that praying and trusting God to supply all their needs wasn’t the way that they did things in England.

Muller never had an income, and he never asked anyone for money. Sometimes, they were barely scraping a meal together, and sometimes they didn’t have anything at all, but Muller prayed, and God always showed up.

I read his story, and his story spurs me on to replace all my worries and all my fears with prayer.

This year, our own bank account would be at nothing, and we wouldn’t have any way of paying the next bill or buying food, and someone would show up at our door with money or food that Abba had told them to give us. We would pray for specific amounts of money, and that amount of money would be supplied. This didn’t just happen once or twice but many times over the last year.

We fought this way of life (depending solely on God)  for a long time, but around October, we decided that we would stop with the strategies of trying to figure out how to earn our own way and just listen to the Holy Spirit and that we would walk through whatever doors He opened…kind of like surrender…kind of like allowing Him to lead….

“The person who lives in right relationship with God does it by embracing what God arranges for him.  Doing things for God is the opposite of entering into what God does for you.”

Resistance has come when I don’t want to follow Him, because I don’t know where He’ll take me…and that’s been the scary part. Still is.

But the more I read in the New Testament about following Jesus, it seems to be about being dependent on Him and allowing Him to work through me…through all of us.

I guess He knows that I become too dependent on things and paychecks that come in regularly, rather than Him. This is a lesson that has been hard for me to learn and one that I’m still learning daily.

Along the course of this year,  He’s brought odd jobs and ministry stuff for Jeff and then has taken some things away and has brought other things along to take their places.  Sometimes these things pay; sometimes they don’t. It doesn’t really matter though. He has always provided what we needed at the time.

One morning as I was lying in bed, I was stressing out about the opportunities my children might be missing out on because of the way we’re living. And then I was reminded, that Abba is also supplying for them what they need as well.

The coolest thing is that our kids are seeing our prayers answered. Real, tangible prayers that acknowledge our complete dependence on Him and Him alone.

Even with everything that Abba has supplied,  I find that I often come back to the children of Israel in the wilderness because I feel like I am so similar to them…whooping it up when God provides and then quickly turning  around and whining, “I need, I need.” 

They all ate and drank identical food and drink, meals provided daily by God. They drank from the Rock, God’s fountain for them that stayed with them wherever they were. And the Rock was Christ. But just experiencing God’s wonder and grace didn’t seem to mean much—most of them were defeated by temptation during the hard times in the desert, and God was not pleased. The same thing could happen to us. We must be on guard so that we never get caught up in wanting our own way as they did. (I Cor. 10)

Depending solely on Abba hasn’t been easy. Far from it. It has been wilderness living for sure, and I have been defeated time and time again, but I don’t want that to be the story of my life. I want my life to point to Him and His goodness…His faithfulness.

***

Jeff said to me just the other day, “What if we never run out? What if we always have enough?

That being said, we’ve seen how God truly provides what we need, maybe not what we think we need, but what we actually need.

A while back, my fourteen year old said, “I really like living this way.”

My response, “Whoa. I wish I could say that all the time.”

Living on a prayer…

This goes against what our culture tells us we have to do in order to live the good life. But I think, in all honesty, I am living the good life, and it’s not what I thought it was…




time flies

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