Posts Tagged ‘home

23
Sep
13

gifts

I decided that I needed to take a day and sit outside, praying, reading, thinking, letting go, receiving. I set up different areas in my backyard so that I wouldn’t get too bored being in the same spot. Between that and trying to dodge the sun throughout the day (this 42-year-old girl doesn’t need any more sunspots), this worked pretty well. But the day I kind of planned out in my mind ended up being different, better. A gift.

Before I even ventured outside, Jeff told me that there was a song he felt described me, my relationship with God, anyway. He had left our bedroom quickly that morning because he felt that there was something for him, and sometimes my voice drowns it out. (He would never say this; I just know it to be true :)) And the something that he received was, in fact, for me.

It was a John Denver song that got stuck in his head, and whether or not you like John Denver, the song fits me, not in terms of human love. because I realize this is impossibly sad for someone to try to fill, but in terms of my relationship with God. And it was perfect for my day.

You fill up my senses like a night in a forest
Like the mountains in springtime like a walk in the rain
Like a storm in the desert like a sleepy blue ocean
You fill up my senses come fill me again

Come let me love you let me give my life to you
Let me drown in your laughter let me die in your arms
Let me lay down beside you let me always be with you
Come let me love you come love me again –“Annie’s Song”

I made a copy of the song, took it outside with me and started softly singing this song in my chair, next to my table, piled with my books. By the second verse, I was weeping. I couldn’t even get the words out. I sang it over and over and over. I was grateful that Jeff was the recipient, the messenger. Another gift.

All day, I sat in the backyard with books and Bible and journal and songbook and coffee and tea and water. It was chilly and then warm and then chilly again as night came on. I soaked in God’s presence and His abundance. I heard the birds and the crickets, almost deafening at times and watched and heard the tall grasses in the field behind our house blowing in the wind. I saw butterflies flitting and birds flying. Clouds in the sky came together in one instance and then moved quickly to another position, followed by a cloudless, bright blue sky. Another gift.

For some of the time, I sat under a tree that was just a little taller than my husband when we moved here six years ago. He thought about chopping it down at the time because it was little more than a bush and rather scrawny at that. Jeff wants things to look more manicured. I love overgrown and tangly and crazy. And now, this tree offers shade from the sun. By the end of the day, the tree was raining sap down on me, on my chair, on my books, and now I have sticky dots to remind me of this day. A gift.

This was the Psalm for me for that day.

…I have calmed and quieted myself like a little weaned child with its mother…

That’s what it was like. I felt content, satisfied to just sit and soak in what God had for me, not demanding that He meet my needs, not demanding that He feed me like a child who is desperate to be fed, but I felt content, happy to just be in His presence. Calm and quiet. A gift.

I noticed my tea bag held a special message for me that I never noticed before. On the little piece of paper connected to the string of the teabag that is supposed to sit outside the mug, it said “Be heard.” For me, I always thought asserting myself was presumptuous, and that I had nothing to say. This was a lie that I believed for years. We each have a story; we each have a gift to bring to this world, a gift that no one else has, and it is okay to be heard. My presence matters. A gift.

Jesse came out to check on me around 3 o’clock, and we talked and laughed for a while. He didn’t plan on staying but ended up pulling up a chair and hanging. Jeff came out after a while. And we all talked. Another gift.

As night came on, Jesse came back out to see if I needed a jacket and then brought me a blanket. Julia and Jeremiah came out later, read with me, and we sang “Amazing Grace” together. Julia did numerous cartwheels, and we belly laughed because she was so dizzy that she almost hit the table every time. Then, we watched the stars come out and sat quietly, mostly. A gift.

Jeff took care of the food that day. From my husband. From God. To me.

Solitude. Relationships. Beauty. God. All gifts.

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29
Aug
13

different kinds of happy

I believe there are different kinds of happy. The one I’ve known for most of my life is the kind that depends on circumstances going my way and on other people meeting my needs or seeing things my way. It’s the kind of happy that is fleeting, beyond my control, based on outside circumstances.  So how do we “keep” happy around in a more lasting, satisfying way?

We as people want to be happy; we want our kids to be happy and live happy, fulfilled lives. It’s even written in The Declaration of Independence  that we have “the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” But many of the things that I myself have pursued have not brought any kind of lasting happiness. Maybe the word pursuit is what makes the word happy not really work. Because it seems that when I pursue it, it always seems to elude my grasp. And I know you can’t buy happy. So maybe happy isn’t something you pursue or something you buy but rather a state of being, something a person learns or even receives.

I looked up the word happy in the dictionary, and most of the definitions described happy as “something based on one’s circumstances or having good fortune,” but the one definition that stood out to me said “happy” formerly meant “blessed.” I have a hard time grasping the word blessed even though I’ve read it hundreds of times in the Bible. But there’s one Bible translation that translates the word blessed as happy. And that’s something I think I can begin to understand.

For me, I want to go deep into happy, the kind of happy that maybe could even be described as joy or peace within, the kind that doesn’t change even when the things or the people around me do. Deep contentment, not dependent on outside things to sustain or fulfill me.  Blessed.

So, God in His gracious kindness used one of my kids to show me a different kind of happy. Jesse, who is 17, went to camp for the first time at the beginning of the summer. I was so excited for him. Jeff and I both grew up going to camp, so I hoped that he would have the time of his life.  The camp where he went posts picture online daily, so parents are able to catch a glimpse of their kids enjoying camp life at its best.  I kept checking online, picturing in my head my son having such a great time. They posted cabin pictures online Tuesday night. All the campers in Jesse’s cabin had these big smiles on their faces; some made funny faces, but my son stood at the back behind everyone else with closed lips and a sad expression in his eyes. My heart dropped because all I wanted was for my kid to be happy.

I didn’t even tell Jeff about the picture. My heart hurt for Jesse. So I began praying for him like crazy. I prayed for him to have a good time, for him to find someone he connected with, for him to be happy. And then, in the middle of the night, God changed my prayers for Jesse. I began praying that he would find ways to serve others, to find those outsider kids who had no one else to talk to, and that he would love them instead of focusing on himself. I prayed that he would open himself up to what God had for him in this experience, that he would be happy, but that happy would look different from what I had formerly thought.

Jeff and I went to pick Jesse up from camp on that Friday, and he seemed settled and somehow more mature than the week before, happy even.  I told him about the picture I had seen online and about the two very different prayers I had prayed. And he told me stories of where he had listened and talked with some very lonely kids. Camp had not been what I had originally wanted for him, but God answered my prayers in the way that God wanted and knew that was best for Jesse.

As the summer went on, Jesse went back to work at the same camp as a junior cabin leader for twelve rambunctious 10-year-old boys. The first week he worked was a really hard week, but Jesse came home talking about what he had learned and how he would do it differently when he went back to camp to work later on in the summer. He seems to be learning happy, but not in the traditional sense of the word, where he pursues it or relies on other people or circumstances to make him happy. And as a mom, I’m content to know that God takes care of my kid and knows how to do so far better than I can even imagine.

A couple of months ago, I found the “happy” chapter in my Bible and shared it with almost everyone I talked with. Psalm 84 reveals the life-changing happy that circumstances and tragedies and fear and even other people cannot touch. It’s the kind of happy that sinks into your soul and allows you to breathe in and live all that God intended. It’s the abundant life that Jesus talked about in the New Testament. It’s the happy that tastes and sees that God is good. It’s what it means to be truly blessed.

How happy are those who reside in Your house, (Christ in me, Christ in you)
who praise You continually.

Happy are the people whose strength is in You,
whose hearts are set on pilgrimage.

Happy is the person who trusts in You,
Lord of Hosts!

20
Mar
13

You Cannot Lose My Love

Recently, I had a couple of episodes with my second son, my 15-year-old. This son is amazing in so many ways. He has high relational intelligence, and he is very persistent, two great qualities if used for good. If used against others, he can bug the snot out of a person with just his facial expressions or his constant noises. His ten-year old sister is a very easy target, and he knows that.

Second son said something to his sister; she went nuts; I stepped in, and he mouthed off at me. But I know his heart toward me, and even though he tried to push my buttons, God gave me the wisdom to answer in gentleness and love after I first apologized to him for calling him a smart ass. (And, yes, I called him that.) But God, in His goodness, quickly convicted me and brought me humbly around before it escalated and became too big, too huge, too stupid. God brought me back to what He’s been teaching me for months now…gentleness.

After my apology, I spoke truth to second son about who he is and told him that my all-time favorite moment for the day had been when I saw him walk toward the house with his sister, his arm slung over her shoulder. Because that’s who this kid is.  He wants to be loved, and he wants to love.

A few days later, this same kid just out-and-out defied me. Something happened with his brother that he didn’t like; I stepped in, and second son made some snotty remark toward me. As I tried to talk to him, he continued walking away from me as I told him to stop. I felt God’s presence and love for that teenage boy even in that moment. I sent second son to his room and said he could come down when he apologized to me.

Four hours later, second son came down and gave me a very insincere apology. I hugged him anyway. I acted as if his apology meant something because I know his heart, and he wants to be loved; they all do, even when it might not look like it.

I’m pretty sure the thing that brought second son downstairs was that I had made one of his favorite foods the night before, and he had gotten hungry. But sadly, the food he came looking for had just been finished off.  Even though it was after 9 o’clock at night and I was tired and was not interested in being in the kitchen for one more second, I offered to re-make this same favorite food for him, and he admitted that he wanted it. As we made it together, we talked. And as we waited for the food to bake, I rubbed his back and gently spoke truth to him. It’s amazing where favorite foods and back rubs and gentleness can take a mom.

The truth that God gave me that night and that I was able to share with second son is that I am for him, not against him. Teenage world is hard enough, but he doesn’t have to do it alone.  And, even when he’s dead wrong and angry and frustrated and even defiant, I am still for him.

I now have three teenage boys, and this is my favorite age so far. God is for them, not against them. And, above all else, I want to reflect God’s love and gentleness to each one of my five children. Because no matter how old they get or where they end up or even what they do…they cannot lose His love…

He gathers the lambs in His arms…
He gently leads those that are nursing. (the immature, the inexperienced) Isaiah 40

16
Mar
13

Not the Path I Would Have Chosen

When Jeff and I moved to Nashville almost six years ago, we came here to help a struggling school. When that school closed down four years ago, we had no idea what to do with our five children (ages 4-12 at the time) who attended that school. It was sad to see so many families struggle with where they would send their kids to school, as well.

Feeling like we had no other options, we went ahead and homeschooled. We had homeschooled several years earlier when our older boys were younger, so I knew we could do it, but I didn’t really want to, to be perfectly honest.

After the school closed down, my plan was to home school our kids for a couple of years and then find a  private school our kids could attend. So, for me, homeschooling was a very temporary thing, to say the least. I love my kids, but I didn’t want to hang with them every day, all day long.

We survived homeschooling for two years, and then that next summer I begged God to release me from homeschooling my kids. I was done. When I realized He was not answering my prayers for release, I realized I might be in this for the long haul, and instead of fighting it, I chose to embrace it.

I had a decent relationship with my kids. I was physically present and took care of them, but I struggled with being emotionally present a good deal of the time. For years, I struggled with emotional affairs, always looking for greener grass elsewhere and not satisfied with God or what He had given me.

But a few years ago, God really began doing His healing work in me, and I began to have victory in an area that I thought I would struggle with for the rest of my life. As a result of His healing, I now had the time and the emotional energy to invest in my kids and began being in real relationship with them, not just passing them in the hall or cleaning up after them or even teaching them school.

We began talking and haven’t stopped yet…real conversations about God, about the stuff that they feel and what they’re going through on a daily basis. We laugh; we joke; we play games; we talk. Jeff and I love sitting in our dining room in front of the fire talking and hanging out with our kids. It is truly one of the best parts of my life.

I’m not a creative home school mom who comes up with fun activities for my kids to do, and my kids would probably say homeschooling is pretty boring for the most part. But what I’ve found in being around my kids all day long and them being around each other is that I would not exchange the relationships I now have with them and the ones they have with each other for anything in the world. It’s a gift from God. And I am just so incredibly grateful.

I would not have chosen this path for myself, but I’m thankful for my loving Abba who chose it for me and gently pushed me down it. He really does know what best for me, for all of us.

And those years the locusts ate…they’ve been reclaimed and restored many times more than I could possibly have imagined.

I will lead the blind by a way they did not know;
I will guide them on paths they have not known.
I will turn darkness to light in front of them
and rough places into level ground. (Isaiah 42)

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.




time flies

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