Im Torn

Thursday, September 14, 2017

I Stood.

I had to stand to cast a vote.

I've never done that before. I've heard about situations where the vote was tallied by standing but I've never been in the room when it happened.

Now I have. And I stood. In opposition.

The issue is not really what the vote was about and where it took place. The issue is that I stood. I stood with one other person in opposition. Not because I am a malcontent, but because I refuse to let the process be a sham. There were others opposed...but they stayed away or stayed seated. That's their prerogative. But my vote is mine. 

We have four children who we are parenting into a world where it is easier to just go with the flow of popular opinion. People vote for a particular political party's candidate because they always vote that party or vote "yes" for every amendment on the ballot because it takes too much effort to research them.  Others avoid the vote because it doesn't matter...their vote won't change things.

Nope. I will vote every time. Even when it doesn't matter. I will research and pray and I will refuse to prostitute my voice. 

I will vote no...even when the moderator looks me in the eye and dares me to stand....because I have to go home and look my daughters in the eyes as well. And that is more important.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

New Mom me vs Experienced Mom me

New moms are blogging up a storm these days. While I am glad that there are now outlets for young mothers to connect with each other and develop relationships during the hectic "new mom" days, some of the posts make me laugh. I really do not intend to make light of those days, but now that I am 17 years past the first "new mom" stage in my life, I thought it would be fun to see how our parenting has evolved.

NM=New Mom
EM=Experienced Mom

NM: Enduring worship service with a toddler.
EM:  Enduring worship service with grumpy, sullen teenagers

NM:  Selecting a carseat & getting the child to stay in the carseat
EM:  Teaching a 15 year old to drive

NM:  Narrowing down all of the cute clothes that are available for my sweet girls
EM:  Finding appropriate (i.e., non-hoochie) clothes for my sweet girls.

NM:  Embarrassing my child when I had to discipline him in public
EM:  Embarrassing my child by breathing

NM:  Getting a family photo without a goofy face

Exhibit A

EM:  Getting a family photo without a grumpy face

Exhibit B

NM:  Physical exhaustion
EM:  Emotional exhaustion

NM:  Selecting play-dates with friends who have like-minded parents
EM:  Watching as my children gravitate toward their own friends...without regard to family dynamics...and keeping my mouth shut

NM:  Hoping that your older child will have a younger sibling to love and to teach the ins and outs of life in your home. 
EM:  Feeling the despair that comes from the fear that your children might not continue their relationship with each other, once they are grown.

NM:  Wondering if you and your husband will ever be able to have a "date" again
EM:  Seeing the empty nest on the horizon & feeling an ache in your heart

NM:  Being so excited when your child makes his first good decision by himself
EM:  Watching & waiting on his college decision and realizing that it is completely his alone

NM:  Taking our children to church and to Christ
EM:  Waiting on Christ to come to them and for them to respond in obedience

This list is non all-inclusive. Experienced moms, please feel free to add struggles of your own.

New moms, I really do miss that special time of life that you are currently in...when hurts were healed by a band-aid, a kiss and a popsicle. Now the hurts are bigger, but the opportunity to show Christ to my children is more expansive.  He can heal those hurts that I cannot take away. And since that is what really matters...keep growing up, my children.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Another chance

The coach looked at Trey and me and asked, "Which child should I give up on?"

Those words keep ringing over and over again in my head.

To me, the one who often places more significance on justice than on grace and mercy, this question was convicting. 

How many times have I grumbled about another chance given to a wayward child while mine followed the rules? How many times have I criticized teachers, coaches or bosses for giving another chance to a seemingly "lost cause"?  But...when is giving up on someone okay?  When do we stop giving 2nd...or 3rd...or 4th chances?

A dear friend of mine gave her husband another chance after he was unfaithful.  Now their marriage is a testament to the grace of God with 3 precious children.  They are serving God in a local church and connecting with men and women who desperately need forgiveness and who desperately need to forgive.

Ben Carson was given another chance.  Now he is a world-renowned neurosurgeon who has been used to work miracles in the lives of countless people.

Jonah was given another chance...and all of the people of Nineveh were spared and God received the glory.

The Bible is full of "another chance" stories...Jacob, David, Samson...Simon Peter?  Not once, but three times he denied even knowing Jesus...but thankfully his friend, his Savior, gave him another chance.

So, when should I give up on a wayward child?


What child is worth another chance?

All of them.

Of course, this doesn't mean that we don't discipline.  This doesn't mean that the guilty don't suffer the consequences of their actions.  But it is not our right or our burden to give up on any child.  That burden relies solely on the shoulders and in the hands of God the Father.

If we claim to be Believers of the Lord Jesus Christ, we should be actively looking for opportunities for redemption.  After all, we ourselves were redeemed for God's glory.  What better way to glorify God than by showing forgiveness and love to the unlovable?

Who knows?  Maybe the child to whom we give another chance is the next Charles Spurgeon...or Abraham Lincoln...or the father of your grandchildren.

P.S.  Thank you, Coach Carter, for changing many children's lives by giving them another chance.  Thank you for changing mine and Trey's by reminding us that no one is past the point of redemption.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

It's {not} Supposed to Be Fun

We attended our last PTO meeting for the year this week.  We went because our 4th grader was performing.  She had vaguely told us what the performance was going to be, but it didn't matter.  She was performing so we were there.

I wish we hadn't gone.

It was the typical PTO meeting...officers elected for the next year, budget presented, rah rah rah we are the best elementary school.

The children performed.  Sort of.  They chanted and danced to songs about how great they are going to do on the state-mandated testing in two weeks.

Then the counselor began her presentation...(to the most attentive parents in the school because, after all, we are the ones who showed up on a spring evening for a meeting!)...about how to get our children ready for testing.  Good night's sleep, eat a good breakfast, no appointments scheduled the days of it.

But what I didn't "get', what I completely disagree with, is the fact that she opened her talk with a statement something like this: "We want your children to know that testing is fun."

State or federally-mandated standardized testing is not fun.  Never has been.  Never will be.

Now, I'm not saying that we should make it a big deal.  I think standardized testing is, unfortunately, just a necessary evil.  We should not put additional stress on our children to perform well.  In fact, why don't we just not even mention it to the children until they walk in and the forms are on their desks??  Let's make light of it if you want.  But, it's not fun.

And that's okay.

Because life is full of things that are not "fun".  A quick run-down of things in my life that haven't been "fun"...

College admissions testing
National pharmacy licensure boards
Working for a crazy woman as a boss...who attempted to fire me simply because was 9 months pregnant
Watching my newborn son who I had only held once flying off in a jet to the NICU in a hospital 2 hours away
Burying my father

It's time that we stop blurring the lines between fantasy and reality for our children.  We need to start letting them know that all of life isn't fun...or fair...  We can do that by telling them that they are not going to enjoy taking a test.  It will NOT be fun.  But, after they finish it, we are going to reward them with a snack and extra recess.

And no homework.

Now that's fun.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Don't Ask Me.

"Do you have any tricks or secrets to handling all the busyness of life with 4 active kids?"

That's the question I received via Facebook this morning.  Truly, today is the worst day to ask me that question.  I am sitting here in tears over the exchange I had with one of my children.  I am feeling incredibly guilty over the lack of attention given to my youngest two as the older two.  And don't even get me started on the state of my house.  I think the sheets on my oldest's bed have been completely kicked off and he was sleeping just under a blanket.

I used to think that these days would be so much easier than the days of sippy cups, car seats, bathtime and Barney.  Now all of my children bathe themselves, sleep [usually] in their own beds and enjoy watching some of the same shows that I do.  However, those days of mommy knowing everything and being able to fix anything are gone.  Now I am a source of embarrassment if I don't look, drive or talk the "right" way.  But I have sort of expected that.  After all, I was a teenager once myself.  

[Please forgive me, Momma and Daddy.]

What I wasn't expecting was the heart-wrenching feeling that accompanies the mumbling, the sarcasm, the eye rolls.  The feeling that I have just sacrificed my day--my energy, my schedule, my body--for this child who has no regard for me.  No appreciation for the little things that encompass my entire existence as her mother.  

How dare she?  How dare he?  

How dare I?

I do the same thing to my Father.  Every day.  Every hour.  He presents me with his best...and I grumble.  He saved my soul for His glory in this life and the next...and I neglect Him.  He gives me His Truth...and I argue about what He should have said or what He really meant.

"In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus...he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant..."  Philippians 2:6, 7b

Can I be like Christ in that way?  If so, then I will be able to approach the busyness of life with joy.  If not, then I will stress over every little detail to the most of making myself and my family miserable.

I choose joy.

And now I must pray for God to help me...

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Are Nativities more dangerous than Santa?

We do Santa.

All of it.

Pictures with Santa at the mall.  Stockings with jolly ol’ St. Nick’s face plastered all over them.  Norad-stalkers on Christmas Eve.  Cookies & milk left out…and carrots for the reindeer.

We have even been known to call the “North Pole” to discuss a particularly defiant child’s pre-Christmas behavior.

I say this with no regrets.  No guilt.  No conviction of sin.

Why?  Because I think the Nativity sets around our home have the potential to be more dangerous to my children than the legend of St. Nicholas. 

{cue gasp}

Our home is filled with signs that we know the “reason for the season”.  Nativity sets, holy families & manger scenes abound.  We pay homage to the baby Jesus in a big way beginning the day after Thanksgiving until December 26.

But that’s the problem.

Christmas isn’t about the baby Jesus.  

Christmas is about the King of the Universe humbling Himself to enter the world He created, to live a life full of rejection & to die a horrible death that should have been OUR punishment.  

Christmas isn’t about young, docile shepherds, holding fluffy, stuffed animal-like sheep in their arms, going to visit a baby because some cherubs told them to go.

Christmas is about God revealing the reality of Christ to a group of socially outcast men, while they were doing their dirty, manual-labor job.  It is about the lives of those men being transformed after their encounter with the Lamb of God.  

Christmas isn’t about the wise men, traveling to see the baby Jesus.

Christmas is about the revelation of God to the wise of this world which always results in the realization that the greatest earthly wisdom is nothing compared to sacrificial worship of the Prince of Peace.

Christmas isn’t about Bethlehem.

Christmas is about Calvary.

There is so much more to Christmas than what Christians have compartmentalized it to be.  Celebrating Christmas in a Christ-honoring manner isn’t about avoiding Santa Claus.  It isn’t about boycotting those secular businesses who prefer “happy holidays” over “merry Christmas”.  {don't even get me started...}

Celebrating Christmas in a Christ-honoring manner is to “have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking on the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.  And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” (Phil 2)

If my children leave our home with the childlike knowledge that while Christmas isn’t about Santa, but simply about Jesus’s birth in a manger, then they are no more beneficial to a lost world than unbelievers.  Christmas is so much more than nativities, stars, angels, stockings, Santa, mistletoe, etc.  NONE of those things are evil in and of themselves.  In fact, I think God might even enjoy the fact that His birthday is celebrated with such festivity.  But it is our job as Christ-following parents to teach our children the full-truth of Christmas, as they mature & are able to comprehend these deeper spiritual truths.

I want my children to look back on the celebration of Christmas with fond memories of fun and of traditions.  I want them to know that their parents knew and walked in the Truth, but enjoyed the celebration. I want them to know that Christmas isn’t about the nativity... Christmas is about the Cross.  

Monday, November 3, 2014

The strongest women I know aren't on ESPN

I watched the Wives of the SEC this weekend. I wish I hadn't.

If you came away from that 3-part series with anything other than disgust, then you are too wrapped up in the celebrity of college football. The culture of artificiality, the opulence, the self-aggrandizing was appalling.

But the one comment that propelled me to the keyboard was this:

"The strongest women I know are coaches' wives."

Bless your heart.  You need to be introduced to more women.

I don't think that buying your own new car, bearing the responsibility of paying the household bills, filing your own tax returns or attending your children's extracurricular activities alone constitute a life of hardship requiring strength to overcome.

How do I know? I do all of those things. But I am not one of the strongest women in my circle of influence. In fact, let me introduce you to a few of the strongest women I know:

  • Samantha is a single mother with 3 children. Her second child is in heaven because he was born with a rare skin disease. She watched him suffer for weeks before he died. Her husband abused drugs, had affairs and now has abandoned the family for another life. 
  • Catherine's only brother was brutally murdered in the Middle East by Muslim extremists. After escaping an abusive marriage, her ex-husband makes her life miserable...taking her to court time and time again over custody issues, forcing their child into horrible situations, and generally terrorizing her.
  • Sarah's youngest child was born with severe disabilities. Her oldest niece suffered an injury which has left her completely disabled, needing 24hr/day care which Sarah tries to help with when she can. She buried her mother a year ago after watching her completely waste away from cancer.
  • Eleanor spent this past week...and every week of the school year...working with high school students who come from broken homes, if they have homes at all.  She spent most of her Saturday with a family who does not share her religious or ethnic background.  She serves this family well as she tries to show them the love of Jesus.   
Oh...and all 4 of these ladies work full-time in jobs that don't pay them what they are worth, much less pay them an extravagant amount more than what they are worth in terms of eternal value to society. They support the loved ones in their lives. They get up each morning and do what they have to do. They pinch pennies and shop sales. They pray.

Let's give credit where credit is due.

I'm so thankful for the strong women in my life. I pray that one day my daughters will look back at my life and see moments of strength. I pray that Trey and I are giving them the foundation so that when they need to be strong, they can call on the One from whom all real strength comes.

"Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she smiles at the future." 
Proverbs 31:25