Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Facebook post

Last night I posted something on Facebook, and I wanted to give a brief explanation. I hate cryptic Facebook posts and realize that's what mine unintentionally was. I happened to be exhausted and overwhelmed with emotion at the time. hopefully this will explain a little what I wasn't able to last night.

Excitement. I was pleasantly surprised to get an unexpected visit from an old, dear friend. That made my day!

Sadness. But while we visited I also had the live streaming of our local soldier's body arriving at out airport on. Not only was I sad for the family but it brought back sadness from my dear friend Michael's death in Iraq 7 years ago. And it also encompassed my worst fear...what if that were my son?

Disappointment and guilt. I got word that Drew hurt someone dear to him with his words yesterday. Drew has been hurt with similar words by friends in the past and I know that's just part of life sometimes, but still it pains me that my son caused that hurt of someone I love as well.

Panic and frustration. When I went to Drew's soccer practice I found out that he does have a game on Saturday. I thought he didn't and I offered to work. I panicked and then grew frustrated that I got myself in this situation to begin with.

Joy. This was more accurately pride in my son Drew as I watched him play and enjoy soccer at his second-ever practice.

Helplessness and deep burden. At revival last night, I realized how deeply Jesus feels compassion for the hurting. I also learned how young people aren't coming to Christ the way they did in generations past. People have deep deep hurts and need Jesus and they need to be loved and told this, but the need is so great. I want to make a difference but how in the world can I?

Fear. Alyssa had a tick on get last night. I'm not a germ freak by any stretch but I know the risks of tick-born diseases, and I got very scared.

Love. There is nothing sweeter than rocking your baby to sleep.

So while nothing was earth-shattering, the combination of these emotions really took their toll on me.

this morning I had a good sweet talk with Drew about his actions yesterday. I decided what to do about Saturday. I'm going to trust God with Alyssa.

But i'm still struggling with the deep burden. I'm starting to think that isn't a bad thing. Maybe my heart needs to hurt a little bit for the lost and hurting around me.

Friday, February 17, 2012

The Homework Assignment

With a tired and fussy Alyssa on my hip, I frantically searched.  The paper wasn't where I thought I put it, and I eventually asked Matt to please check my car. I had to find it.  And it was almost bedtime so time was of the essence.

Finally, Matt came in holding it, and I breathed a sigh of relief.

It was Drew's homework assignment.

Yep, you heard me right. Drew is still in preschool but he has a new teacher who gives him homework.  If you know me well, you know that thrilled me. And no, I'm not being facetious.  The first homework assignment was on a  - gasp! - weekend, but Drew excitedly completed his writing and arithmetic.  This second assignment was only a coloring assignment, so it wasn't a big deal if he couldn't turn it in, right?

No, the assignment itself wasn't a big deal.  He doesn't get graded, and he would get over it if he didn't get an item from the treasure chest.  To me, however, these early assignments are setting the pace for his future approach to education but more importantly, authority.

If I am to instill in him a proper respect for authority, it has to start with these early opportunities.  Sure, there will be room for the occasional slip-up down the road, but as the Baby Whisperer says, "start as you mean to go on."  (Although she meant it in the context of eating and sleeping habits, I thought it was an excellent mantra for lots of things.)

A proper respect for authority is one of the "musts" in parenting, particularly for a Christian parent.  Drew must learn early to respect the adult authorities in his life if he is to develop the proper respect for God's authority in his life.  

And that starts young, and in my perspective, a command, request, or assignment from authority - no matter how insignificant the task itself may be - IS significant.

It sets the stage for choices on authority he will face throughout his life, with the eventual goal of submitting himself to the ultimate authority - God himself.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Self-Care Part II

In my last post, I talked about how I believe we can easily be deceived by the well-intentioned “self-care” advice out there.  In this post, I want to talk about what our lives might look like if we do embrace allowing our care to come from Christ.

The question begs to be asked – from where did the need for “me time” even come?  Neither of my hardworking grandmothers are living any longer, but I wonder if they would laugh at the notion. Both of them spent their lives – from what I saw and from what I’ve heard – serving others.

I think it’s our busyness.  Or, perhaps more accurately – our perceived busyness.  (I can feel very busy but I make time for NCIS every week. But that, of course, is part of my rest time. ;)

Still, whether busyness is real or perceived, we desire an escape.  Whether that escape takes the form of a bubble bath, immersing ourselves in our favorite TV show, or something else, we desire that rest.  That desire in itself isn’t wrong.  In fact, Jesus made time for himself to devote to prayer. He needed that rest as well. It’s where we look for that rest that is the problem.

I referred in my last post to Jesus being our shepherd.  In studying what a shepherd actually does, my eyes have been opened immensely to this precious truth.  One trait in particular really struck me: 

The sheep doesn’t ever decide for herself where she will be. The Shepherd does.

Let that sink in. 

What if I let my Shepherd govern my every activity?  What would my life look like?  Sure, we don’t have a problem taking our major life decisions to him.  But what about everyday decisions?

Let me give you an example.  A few Sundays ago, I had about an hour before I had to be back at church, and I had just gotten Alyssa in bed for a nap. Everything in me wanted to brew a cup of coffee and sit down, but I instead prayed, “What would you have me do?” I immediately recalled a couple of things my husband had asked me to do that normally I would have just put off for a more convenient time. This time I did them. And you know what happened? I got these projects done with plenty of time to spare. After these projects were completed, I felt at complete peace with getting my coffee and watching football, and I was truly able to relax.  Those 15 minutes following my Shepherd were more restful than an hour of the same activity not following Him.

Our Shepherd knows our needs.  If we’re following him, he is not going to let us run dry without filling us back up.  And dare I say, he won’t let us get lazy either. He has a plan for the way we spend our time. That plan includes worshiping him above all else, serving others, and getting refreshing rest. 

“Self-care” can’t hold a candle to following the Good Shepherd. 

Saturday, February 4, 2012

"Self-Care" Part 1

Last night I was really tired. Not the sleepy kind of tired; the physically drained kind of tired.

That's pretty common for a mom of young children. And if I took to heart all I've been reading recently on some Christian blogs, I'd make time for "me" and I'd start perfecting the art of "self-care."  It sounds good.  "Self-care" sounds so, well, refreshing. Soothing even.

Yet I'm going to be bold here and say that I fear we're creating a generation of young women who are deceived into thinking "taking care of ourselves" is the way to manage life.

Now before you write me off here, let me explain that I'm not saying we work ourselves to the bone without regard for our physical, spiritual, and emotional well-being.  What I'm saying is that a focus on "self" is not where the answer lies.

Scripture points to something far better.

I can't think of one Scripture that tells us to prioritize our own needs above others' needs.  Instead I think of plenty of Scriptures that point to the opposite.  Jesus told us to deny ourselves and follow him (Matt. 16:24) and that we are to serve others (Matt. 23:11). Paul tells us to put others' needs ahead of our own (Phil. 2:4).  Nowhere that I've found does Jesus talk about "self-care."

In fact, Scripture lists several times Jesus did seek to be alone or to be alone with his disciples and was interrupted.  Never once did he say, "I'm sorry, guys, I've carved out this 'me time' so I can refresh myself from all I've been doing. I'll be ready to speak to you tomorrow."  Nope, instead he embraced each interruption as an opportunity to care for those around him.

So what is the answer for us?  What Jesus did tell us is that he is our shepherd - the good shepherd.  The shepherd looks after and takes care of his sheep.  The answer to our care resides in the hands of our shepherd, not our own hands.

What is the difference?  My self-care rests in my putting my own needs first. It creates an environment of self-centeredness that is opposed to what Jesus called us to be.  On the other hand, when Jesus cares for us, the burden of care rests upon the one who knows our deepest needs even better than we do ourselves.  And a byproduct of that care is getting to experience the loving arms of our Savior.

What do you think? What do you think it looks like in everyday life to put our own care and rest in the lap of Jesus?

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Three Days

This week I took three days off work.  I was longing for a break and I desperately needed to go through our closets.  Matt laughs at me because my chore of choice around the house is rearranging closets or the pantry.  Never mind the gunk building up on the sinks.  As long as my closets are organized, I'm happy.

Because my kids had prearranged places to be, I looked forward to this time alone. An introvert by nature, I long for time to myself, but I rarely get it.  Between working full-time, teaching a class at church on Wednesday nights, attending another class on Sunday nights, meeting with a committee on Sunday afternoons, laundry, cooking, grocery shopping...well, I feel like I'm doing well just to get through each day.  Each day that, mind you, starts at 5 a.m. so I can get all of the above accomplished.

Whew. I'm tired just thinking about it.

My three days off were more fulfilling than I ever anticipated.  And more than just because my closets make me smile.  I learned some valuable lessons that will help me to balance my life a little better from now on.

1. I. Need. Rest.  And I'm not talking about physical rest. Trust me, after going through my own closet, I was whooped.  I'm talking about mental rest.  I realized that I've been running on empty for so long I didn't know what it felt like to be refueled.  Rest for me (an introvert) is time away from my responsibilities, including my children (and that's hard to take because working full-time I feel like I owe them every ounce of free time I have).  Yet that rest is crucial, and I'm not going to get that rest unless I carve out time for it.

2. I don't need near as much time to get that rest as I thought I did.  Do you ever find yourself famished, anticipating a huge meal, ready to eat it all, and after a few bites find that you're getting full - way too early! Then of course you stuff yourself because you had convinced yourself that you needed all that food.  That was me this week. I carved out three days.  But sometime during the second day I realized I could have been satisfied with just one.  I need rest, but less than I realized.

3. I treasure my kids.  That seems like a "duh" statement, but at the rate I was going, I found that their needs had become items to check off my daily to-do list because I was so overwhelmed (and laden with guilt for feeling that way instead of treasuring these fleeting years to the fullest).  I started envying women whose kids were already grown because they had free time.  I started longing for the days that my kids were older and I could just cook one meal without a toddler yelling (ever so sweetly), "up, up, UP!" (cooking with a 25-pound child on your hip isn't easy).  But you know what I found? After just a little while away from them, I started to miss them.  The quiet house I longed for started to feel lonely.  I had resolved not to watch mindless TV during my 3 days and my K-Love radio wasn't keeping me company. I missed Drew playing with his Transformers in the living room, and I missed Alyssa's chatter about Elmo, books, and of course, puffs.  I missed my kids so much I even went to get Alyssa early today (gasp!) and we enjoyed a wonderful afternoon before picking Drew up from preschool.

Yes, I need rest.  It reminded me of what my pastor said on Sunday about the Ten Commandments. When you need to find your way home, go back to those commandments.  I'm realizing how much truth there is in that.  The commandment I needed to go back to was the one where we are commanded to rest.  I always just assumed that moms got a pardon from that one because anyone knows that even if a mom with young children isn't "working," she's certainly not "resting."  I just assumed at this stage of my life, rest wasn't possible.

But God created us with a need for rest. A need for him.  And just like I make time for everything else in my life, I must make time for rest.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Tummy Troubles

Today has been a difficult day. My stomach is still in knots.

Drew has been complaining of stomach pain for a couple of months at least. What started out occasional got more and more frequent and the past week or so it has been multiple times a day. He wakes up, he says his stomach hurts. He eats, his stomach hurts. He rides in the car, his stomach hurts.  At first we thought he was just imagining this, but Matt and I both realized it was real when he said, "okay," when we told him we needed to take him to the doctor.

Dr. Harrison listened to me and asked questions, and he asked Drew to point at where it was hurting. Drew pointed to his belly button area, and  I can't express how much this meant to me but he didn't just consider my words, he read my face and addressed my biggest fear right off.  He said most of the time the closer the pain is to your belly button, the less serious it is likely to be.

Then he started suggesting what it might be and ordered an X-ray.  Drew did so well with the X-ray and the X-ray tech was wonderful with him.  The results revealed lots of gas bubbles throughout his stomach.  Dr. Harrison prescribed Zantac and told me that he expects this to help fairly quickly. He said if it doesn't help, he will send us to a GI specialist.

With Matt's and my family's history of cancer, you can imagine where my thoughts were when Drew's stomach pain continued to get worse and worse.  And even though it appears that this is fairly simple to treat, I'm having trouble untying those knots in my stomach.  I just want to hug Drew and not let go.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Preschool Days

When Drew got a note sent home from preschool a few weeks ago, I didn't think a whole lot of it.  He has been going to preschool since the summer and has never gotten into any trouble.  Matt and I addressed the issue, confident we wouldn't get any more notes home.

I was mistaken. On Monday when I picked him up, Drew notified me of another note home.  We addressed this issue a little more sternly this time.  I told him that if he got a note home Wednesday, we wouldn't take our weekly McDonald's trip before church.

Well, we didn't get one note home on Wednesday. We got two.

(Note: before you think the worst, the notes were sent home for infractions such as distracting the class, talking during naptime, not obeying the teacher, and "play fighting" on the playground.)

So, Wednesday night, Matt and I had a "come to Jesus" meeting with Drew, not quite literally but close.  We threatened if he got another note home, he wouldn't get to play on his trampoline or swing set for a week. Furthermore, I told him if he wanted to go to McDonald's next Wednesday before church (he lost that privilege that day and he wasn't happy about it), he would have to be on "green" (indicating good behavior) each day between now and then.

Still concerned with Drew's recent rash of misbehavior, I decided to call and talk to his teacher this afternoon. When I knew the kids were napping, I called his her to assure her that we had been speaking to Drew about his notes and ask if his behavior was better today.  This was my first "conference" with Drew's teacher.  

The call went above and beyond my expectations.  Not only did she say Drew was much better, but she also went into detail about not only what Drew had been doing to get those notes but also what she was doing to work with him. She also speculated the reasons behind his misbehavior.  Out of 13 children in her class, 11 of them are boys.

Bless her heart.

But she said it matter-of-factly.  Whereas I would be begging for sympathy in her shoes, I could instead sense a passion in her voice for her children.  She explained what she was doing in the classroom to help the children learn. She asked if Drew had mentioned her teaching them sign language because that was something new she was doing this year. She was passionate about her children and her classroom.

She then went into some positive qualities that she saw in Drew that I hadn't thought of before. But now, I can see them, and I know how to guide him in the weaknesses and strengths that come with those qualities.

I got off the phone with her greatly encouraged.  I knew that Drew was learning more than I ever anticipated he would in preschool. Sight words, Spanish words, sign language, the Pledge of Allegiance... it's something new every day.  But in this phone conversation, I also knew that his teacher is guiding him as an individual in areas that can't be taught in a classroom.

And as a teacher's daughter, I can say, THAT is what makes a good teacher, a great teacher.

I'm confident that this will be a great year for Drew as his last year before kindergarten.  I'm of course hoping for no more notes home, but no matter what happens, I know that he is in great hands and is getting a good start both as a student and as a person.