Wednesday, November 30, 2011

generosity

I always like the Angel Tree project.  I remember being a small child, giving mittens, and imagining how sad it would be to be a child with no mittens.

So I walked by the Angel Tree yesterday.  I saw a request from a girl my daughter’s age:

DSI games

DSI games?!  This is what the needy children in our community NEED?

I am glad my daughter was not with me.  She would have had to hear me rant and grumble and change my mind about doing the Angel Tree. 

When actual needs, food and shelter and clothes, are met in abundance, what else is there to do but to turn “wants” into “needs?”  I am not just talking about the “career welfare” folk. 

We do it, too.  My kids do it. I do it.  I “need” naptime and coffee and internet.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

technology that brings the family together?!

I am the girl that rolls her eyes at her husband all the time because of his interest in technology.  But now and then he finds something that impresses me, too.  Like this ap, google sky.

A mild November night, a clear sky, freshly-hung Christmas lights, and six excited children ready to enjoy all of it, and an ap that tells us exactly what we are looking at...

Amazing. All of it.

Wow daddy, is that really Jupiter?

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Tangled

            Every year those Christmas lights were tangled.  Every single year, when the boxes came out, the complaints started.  "How did these get so tangled?  This is going to take all day!"  I remember sitting on the carpet with lights piled in my lap, tackling the mess with impatient little fingers.  If my mother dared offer help to her frustrated little girl, I would refuse, and storm into another room with my project, determined to untangle at least one strand all by myself.
            As an adult, I still hide away when there is untangling to be done.  I have learned to accept help with Christmas lights, but when it comes to the tangled mess of my own heart, I often revert to childish methods.  I wrestle in frustration.  Offers of help scare me away, and I take my mess into a secret place where I can dwell on it in peace.  I set my problems on my lap, and I try to sort everything out.  I know I need to go to God for help, but I do not want to go unless I can get my thoughts organized first.  I imagine myself untangling things, lining them up, and sorting them into piles:

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thanks

I can’t always see what is in front of me.  I have two working eyes, but my vision gets cloudy sometimes.  Worry overshadows beauty.  Tears of suffering make things blurry.  Depression darkens everything.

Deep wounds, those that bring questions and anger and defiance, might even cause me to squeeze my eyes shut for a season, refusing to believe in God’s goodness, asking “Why should I even bother looking?”

Yet relentless grace pries them open again.  Sometimes it even comes through my ears when my eyes are shut tight.  A Word, a child’s laugh, a song; a tincture of goodness, enough to soften my expression, and I dare to take a peek again.

Like a child stepping outside, I gasp in wonder as snowflakes sparkle, and the very air tastes like grace.

For a moment I see, I really see, and I am amazed.  God is so good to me.

Today I give thanks, for eyes opened to softly falling grace.



Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

A great 'tween idea

This is an idea I simply must share.


Recently I joined some other "tween" mothers to discuss the book "Six Ways to Keep the Little in Your Girl."  The book was good.  The conversation was fantastic.  I will post more on this topic, but for today- just one idea.

It is so important to stay connected with our little girls!
and also,
It is so HARD to stay connected with my little girl!

Here is one fantastic idea (from Lisa at the PCC- thank you so much for your great work Lisa!)

Mama and Me Journal

She told us of one mother who had a terrible time trying to get her daughter to open up to her.  The little girl did not want to talk about anything that was even mildly uncomfortable.  But the mother was determined to stay connected with her daughter and to be there for her during the awkward changes.  She wanted her to be comfortable coming to her with questions.

Since talking failed, mom tried a journal :  mother-daughter journal.  A secret mother-daughter journal, for writing in whenever you want, with questions or thoughts or anything at all.  Mom would write in it and sneak it under her pillow.  Days or weeks later, daughter would reply.  Slowly the daughter found courage to show pieces of her heart and even ask her mother questions that she would not have asked her in person.

What a great idea!


I already know my daughter likes to write.  I knew she would love this idea.  I am running with it.  I am keeping it simple, allowing it to be imperfect and even sloppy (which is absolutely necessary if I am going to be handwriting anything!)  I presented it to her on Sunday, along with other "gifts" to celebrate this next season of her life. I think it was a hit.

This is inside the front cover:


Then I wrote her a little note about how I love her and want to be there for her, etc, and I started off with an easy question: Who is your favorite school friend, and why?

I think this is going to be the beginning of a super-fun, super-secret mother daughter bonding experience!  Because it is super-secret, I will not be able to divulge much more information.  But I know my sweet darling will not mind if I show you this:



... maybe big kids can be pretty cool after all...

Mama and Me Journal


You can download this great label for the cover at this location:

http://mamajenn.com/blog/2010/11/mama-me-journal.html

Monday, November 21, 2011

a new season

(Sunday)
              My first baby, I wonder if you will remember this day?  It is a major milestone for me.  We are having a “talk,” I hope the first of many, about what is to come as you grow into a woman.  


           Will you know how far out of my comfort zone I am going with this?  Will you believe me when I tell you “I am so excited and happy to see you growing into a young woman,” and when I say “There are so many great things about this next part of your life!”  I do believe that, a little...but I am also a mother looking back, remembering our little years together, wishing we could stay in the safe and warm preschool years for just  a bit longer.  I am a mother who sees your enormous heart and is bracing for the inevitable wounds it will receive.  I am a mother and you are still my baby--and I don’t want to let my baby go out into the elements.  There is so much danger.

The Flower Grow Pictures, Images and Photos
Grow, flower!
                But there is no real choice to “let” you.  You will grow and go whether I “let” you or not.  I am praying that God makes me into a mother who “lets,” who grows with you, and who opens her hand to receive what He has in store for our futures-- together, and separately.  

Jesus, hold us close to each other, 
and close to You.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Why it is pointless to write my list in pen

I start the day, full of coffee and hope, ready to use my manifold talents to bless the world.

But where to start?  

I could bless my children with books, thoughtful questions, and intellectual stimulation.  
I could teach them to look outside our home with kindness, and we could bake cookies for a neighbor.  
We could go to the museum.
We could schedule a play date.
We could create art with leaves and acorns.

Or, I could undo some of the damage they have done in my home. 

Like this:


A bottle brush tangled in the mini blinds.  

Really? Seriously?  How does this stuff happen? (among other unhelpful thoughts I think at a time like this.)

Again, I am reminded, that I am not really in charge of the day's activities.

I rebel.  It has been there for two days.  Nobody cares.
But I must take care of it sometime, at least before we host the Christmas party.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

The way of things

This is the way of things. 
This is the lot thou hast given them, 
because they are part of things which do not all exist at the same time, 
but by passing away and succeeding each other they all make up the universe, 
of which they are all parts. 
For example, our speech is accomplished 
by sounds which signify meanings, 
but a meaning is not complete unless one word passes away, 
when it has sounded its part, so that the next may follow after it. 

(Who hears the beginning of a story,
the "Once Upon A Time," and is content to stay there?
Me, with my babies, though it makes no sense.)

Let my soul praise thee, in all these things, O God, the Creator of all; 
but let not my soul be stuck to these things by the glue of love, 
through the senses of the body. 
For they go where they were meant to go, 
that they may exist no longer. 
And they rend the soul with pestilent desires 
because she longs to be and yet loves to rest secure 
in the created things she loves. 
But in these things there is no resting place to be found. 
They do not abide. 
They flee away; and who is he who can follow them with his physical senses? 
Or who can grasp them, even when they are present? 
For our physical sense is slow because it is a physical sense
and bears its own limitations in itself. 
The physical sense is quite sufficient for what it was made to do; 
but it is not sufficient to stay things from running their courses 
from the beginning appointed to the end appointed. 
For in thy word, by which they were created, 
they hear their appointed bound: "From there--to here!"

Augustine, Confessions, Book 4 Ch X, public domain



Tuesday, November 15, 2011

What's so great about babies?

God knows how to give good gifts to his children, and the gift of a newborn is one of the best.  

I'm in the mood for a list.  Will you think on this with me?  Maybe together we can encourage some aching mother, swollen with baby, who in her own burden has forgotten or does not know the joys soon to come.

Maybe, as we reminisce together, we will remember, and re-rejoice in His great works in us and through us as mothers.  (This is my version of the facebook thanksgiving list- or, 1000 gifts of motherhood!)

What IS so great about babies?  What is so great about growing them; meeting them; loving them in that first year of life?

I'll start the list.
In no particular order...  

1.  That first moment, seeing the wrinkly, angry face, and thinking, "Hello, stranger! So YOU are the one who has been making me so uncomfortable!"
2.  Soft and sweet-smelling skin
3.  Clothes that seemed ridiculously small- actually too big!
4.  That pathetic cry that sounds a bit like a goat
5.  Setting baby on my tummy, marveling, "How did this kid actually fit inside of me?!"
6.  Being able to touch my toes again! (I usually celebrate with postpartum toenail painting)




Please add your own thoughts and check back often- I'll be adding to it all week!

Monday, November 14, 2011

never-agains

It doesn’t happen often anymore, but I did it last week:
I picked up a sleeping baby.

I was tired, and there were still a thousand things on my list, but I quit.  The complaints of things left undone in my home were drowned out by my own loud thoughts: children growing, milestones whizzing by, lightning quick changes all around me.

My snoring baby didn’t need me.  I picked him up anyway, and we rocked while he snored.

Birth pains are nothing compared to growth pains.

Oh God, these children!  They bloom, just as they should; they grow, just as You will.  How can something so wonderful be so sad?  Tonight I feel so heavily the ache of the never-agains.  

I know, God, I know you are changing me.  I know the ache of the never-again will melt into a gratitude for having had at all.  I am only dragging my feet as you lead me towards peace.
 

It will happen.  But right now, I sit heavy with memories, and I linger in the rocking chair.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

I couldn't have said it better.


                 I knew that if we were going to make it to bedtime that day, we needed to get out of the house.  Our home felt small and congested with conflict.  We escaped into a gorgeous October evening.  "Yes, of course we can open the windows," I said, suddenly cheerful.  The air was warm, and the smells of autumn flew around us.  Fields of dried corn waited quietly for the harvest. The sky was heavy with the rich colors of evening. 

            We drove down the road, eyes wide, as if entering another world.  The strong, warm wind scattered leaves into the sky, and the wind seemed to be carrying us along with it.  I took a deep and grateful breath. 

            Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed another one sharing my joy.  In the seat behind me sat the baby.  For this moment, he had forgotten to complain about the straps of his car seat.  His eyes were closed, and his hands were in the air.  His palms faced forward, and his fingers were wide apart, as if he were trying to reach far enough so he could embrace the beauty of Autumn.

            You could almost see his heart expanding as he received the gift given him in that moment.  God knows how to give good gifts, and little babies know how to receive.  With open hands and arms, baby Peter took in the joy of that moment.  It overflowed into a smile and then a sighing, sweet, wordless baby song.

            How is it that a baby --who can speak no words-- can so perfectly express the feelings of my own heart?

Thursday, November 10, 2011

the opposite of help

A diligent mother may successfully banish certain bad words from her vocabulary.  But tell me mothers, are not those banished words simply replaced by other equally unhelpful words?

And really, what's the harm in letting out a little frustration?  Maybe I FEEL like being ineffective and counter-productive as I manage my kids today.  Maybe I LIKE giving them one more reason to tune out the sound of my voice.

Oh, you don't know what I am talking about?  Well then, I have started a list for you.  Store these words in your brain (pile them on top of the curse words,) and use them next time you sit on something wet, or find yourself in the kitchen with 100 squawking children on your ankles, or hear the 100th scream of the day and it's only 9am... 

Emily's list of unhelpful sayings

That did NOT just happen.

If I had a magic wand, I would use it, but I do not, so you will just have to wait.

Do you LIKE getting hurt?

Didn't I just feed you?

THAT is the opposite of help.

WHY is everything so STICKY?!?!

Didn't I JUST change you?

Where IS your daddy anyways?

Are you kidding me?

Do you LIKE disobeying your mother?

(shrill voice) What were you thiiinkiiiing?!?!?!



What would you add to my list?

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

on success and failure

How do we define success and failure?
How does God define success and  failure? 

(We discussed this at our Bible study group last week, as part of our study on What Women Fear by Angie Smith.)  

When we consider this question in light of the Scriptures, we will see that our natural way of thinking about success bears little resemblance to God's.  Our priorities are not His!

When I say I had a successful day, I usually mean that things went smoothly; or, if they didn't, that I feel like I handled it well;  or that I got many things done that I wanted to get done. 

But what about the days that do NOT go smoothly?
Is it possible that some of those days could actually be, from God's perspective, our better days?  Could those days actually be more beneficial to us or the people around us than the "good" days?

 The truth is, we know little about God's greater plan.  The biggest success of my life may have been a sentence I spoke to a friend ten years ago.  Or, it may have been the time when my faith was almost gone, and I was crying out to Him in the chapel of a children's hospital.  It may have been a time when His strength upheld me in my weakness. 

Forgive me Lord, for worrying too much about my own achievements!  I do not always know what is best, and I certainly do not always choose what is best.  Yet, You give me daily grace with my daily bread.

 We are called to do the works of love that are in front of us.  Even though our best works are stained with sin, we trust that God in Christ who has had mercy on us will continue to have mercy on us.  Not only that, He can and will use His imperfect children to show His mercy to other people as we live out our vocations. 

He is a God who delights in showing mercy.

 Let us set aside thoughts of success and worries of failure, and let God be successful in His work of the salvation of His children.

Let us pray, "Lord, have mercy on me, a sinner."


And then, let us hold on to Him tightly through our whole lives as He does just that.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Easier blogged...

True confession: I do not practice what I preach. 

If you have had some idea that I am a super spiritual holy shmoly shining saint, you may destroy that image you have of me now.

After last week's succession of blog posts on the importance of remembering God's faithfulness to those who have gone before...can you guess how many times I shared these great things with my own kids? 

Consider first, the things I have to make this easier:
I have a scrapbook already made.
My husband is a pastor.
It was on my mind all week.
We have pictures of some of those saints (grandparents) in our living room.
And, I have done this before.

So what's my score? 

0.

That's right.  A big fat ZERO.  Not ONCE did I pass on this holy-day joy to my own kids.

And I would have gotten away with it too, had it not been for my son's meltdown before church on Sunday morning.

He was not getting dressed quickly enough, and I was harsh with him.  (Note that this is my most obstinate child, and the one voted most likely to join the mafia.)  All of a sudden, he withered into a puddle of tears.  This is unheard of, I thought. He must be getting sick!

When I asked him what was wrong, he refused to make eye contact.  Instead, he ran into my arms and buried his soaked face in me while he wept.  It took several minutes before I could understand the words that tried to come through his sobs.  

He said, "I think.... I'm ....going to..... die."  
After another round of hearty sobbing he added, "And I think .....coyotes.... might be real!"

My frustration dissolved into compassion.  I rocked and snuggled him for a half hour.  We spoke of scary stuff and of Jesus.
 
I have had this conversation with his brother before, but now my tough guy?  What is going on with this?  Are my children unusual?  Is it because we live by a cemetery?  Because we are a pastor's family?  Because we let them watch Star Wars?

I don't know.  But I also remember being a child and feeling exactly that way.  I am not sure I have outgrown it.

Later, we looked at the scrapbook together.  He loved it.  His siblings did, too.  They spoke excitedly of all the people we will get to meet in heaven.  They drew more pictures to add to the book.  We sang some of our favorite songs.  God's Word comforted us.

What did I learn from all this?
I learned that I find it easier to write about things than live them. 
(Lord, have mercy.)
I learned that I still fear death, and I still don't like talking to the kids about scary stuff. 
(Lord, have mercy.)
I learned that my children need me to talk about scary stuff, and Jesus
(Lord, have mercy!)

I do not have sufficient comfort for my children.  
But God Himself has mercy on them, and He comforts them with His Word as with arms and a warm blanket.  And there is room underneath this blanket--enough room for all of my children, and for me, too.


Wednesday, November 2, 2011

still remembering


Thank you God, for your Divine Service to us, and for providing a foretaste of this joy to come.


"The Proper Preface for Holy Communion concludes by placing these words in the mouth of the officiant: "Therefore with angels and archangels and with all the company of heaven we laud and magnify Thy glorious name . . ." "Therefore with angels and archangels!" This statement is both glorious and utterly incredible. With these words we are transported. Suddenly time and space fall away; they recede into insignificance and we are united with heavenly choirs. In the Holy Communion we are joined to an ongoing feast in the presence of God. This is the feast which will never end. This is worship. This is the worship of saints. And here you have your place, a place reserved for you from the foundation of the world. At the Holy Communion heaven overlaps earth and the words of Hebrews 12 become present reality: "But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to myriads of angels, to the general assembly and church of the first-born who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the Judge of all, and to the spirits of righteous men made perfect." In the liturgy of the church this eternal worship of God enters time - our time. This is the "real" time – time which finds its beginning in God; time which is never diminished."
- Reverend Dean M. Bell




May God instruct our faithful imaginations, guided always by His Word, as we remember our loved ones and His promises.  Even now, those grandparents and children and friends who have died with Christ are living with Him in glory.  Even now, our Father who sustains them sustains us.  Even now, we look forward with joy to the day when we are united forever in Him.  



Jesus, hold us close to you as we look forward to that day.  Amen.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Another great way

Another great way to remember those who have gone before.  Check out this beautiful board book about Delia.
I'm not sure how Mommy will be able to read it to Big Sister without tears, but I think it is a great idea!

What a beautiful example of Christian grief.

With the family of God,
we remember life,
we are sad when it ends, but happy too,
and we look forward with hope.

Now behold, today I am going the way of all the earth, 
and you know in all your hearts and in all your souls 
that not one word of all the good words 
which the Lord your God spoke concerning you has failed; 
all have been fulfilled for you, 
not one of them has failed.  
Joshua 23:14

He has been faithful,
and He will be faithful,
Amen.
Web Analytics