Monday, September 17, 2012

Sometimes You Can't See the Forest for the Trees

I've been a Christian for fourteen years.  (That is just more than half my life, by the way.)  I've seen God move in my life and the lives of others around me.  I felt called into some sort of ministry when I was in High School.  God revealed to me, later, that ministry would be to my husband in ministry.  Thus, I became a 'pastor's wife.'

So I've been a 'Pastor's wife' for seven years now.  I've seen the ins and outs, the good, the bad and the ugly, of the church world.  I've prayed with people, over people, and even had the opportunity to be used by God to lead people unto Himself.

I was voted "most likely to change after high school' during my senior year.  People thought I wouldn't remain faithful to my call.

And to all outward appearances, nearly ten years later, I have.

Let me preface by saying, I have not forsaken my faith.  No.  That is not the concern what-so-ever.  Rather, God is starting a new work in me through a recent revelation.

I've been wrestling with God, sometimes exhaustingly and quite literally, over many basic truths.  "Are you good?" has been something I've been shouting at Him for many, many months.  You see, somewhere I've developed this vision of a God whose only mean of drawing us to Himself is through hurting us.  I'm afraid of the hurting.

I've been begging, "Why can't I see you?  Where have you gone?" and doubt has entered the innermost parts of my heart.  My prayer has since become, "Lord!" I shout at Him, as though He's a million miles away, "I believe, but help my unbelief!"  And I lie ashamed.

You see - to all who have seen me - I appear very faithful.  In fact, to look in the mirror, I have appeared to myself to be quite faithful.  "Fourteen years and counting, Lord," I profess, and I break my arm patting myself on the back.  "Good thing this is a race of endurance."

Rather, good thing He is faithful.  It has recently been brought to my attention that possibly - just maybe - my professing words and my church service and attendance may not be the faith God is referring to when He said, "without faith it is impossible to please God."  He doesn't say "without church attendance" or "without good works or service", He says "without faith."

And up until a few days ago, I really assumed I was fine in that department.  It wasn't even a department I would have explored.

But I have tragically learned that this area that I once found to come so easily, has, with each new blessing, become quite difficult.

The very night God brought this to light in my life, our son woke up at 12:30 with a blazing fever, mumbling about how the ambulance lights had woken him.  I couldn't believe it.  We'd just finished a round of antibiotics a week ago for ear infections.  Not again.  I did what most moms would do, stripped his shirt off of him, gave him a dose of tylenol, got a cold wash cloth for his head, and tucked him back in bed.  I prayed for him before going back to sleep myself, asking, specifically, for God to remove whatever sickness was lingering in his body.

B woke up the next morning with no sign of a fever, no symptoms, no complaints.  I convinced myself the tylenol was still lingering in his system, and we'd wait it out until the next dose.  The next dose never came, and the longer he went without a fever and the longer he begged to go play outside, the more I really began to question whether God had answered my prayer.

Ashamedly, I was surprised.  I realized quickly that not even as the prayer was crossing my mind and exiting my lips did I really even believe that God would actually come through.  Prayer was more of a pleading with an invisible person that would just make me feel better momentarily.  There was no expectation, no drive, no urgency.

The Lord has driven home His point to me.  In praying, "Lord, I believe, but help my unbelief," He's revealing that my faith has decreased to almost nothing.  To help my unbelief, He must increase my faith.  I've become so attuned to living this humanly predictable life that I've missed the forest for the trees.  I've been praying without expectation. I've been missing His blessings because I'm so afraid to legitimately ask for them for fear of disappointment.

I think now at how I would have reacted had I prayed and believed urgently that B would have woken up well, and he hadn't.  What would my response had been then?  I pray it would be, "But God is still good," but somewhere along the way, I have forgotten that.

It's a time for me to step back from the trees and evaluate the forest.  I'm resigned to either change my expectations of the Lord, who says in His word that He loves us, provides for us, and hears our petitions, or to change my prayers until I'm ready to respect the Lord with the faith that He deserves.  He has never let me down.  He has never left me, and I intend to begin believing again, that He never will.

Until next time -

Have faith.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

I'm Really a Competent Parent... Really

You ever have those days?  You know... those days.  I hope I'm not the only one who has days (or moments) that I feel like I should carry around a sign disclaiming (ahem - or warning) people of the day we've had or of the events that may lie ahead.

I had one of those evenings tonight.

So big bro had t-ball practice, as he does many nights, but Thursday nights are difficult.  Thursday nights I'm outnumbered two to one, and considering little sister has about an hour less of a nap than what she needs, I think, in reality, she counts as the equivalent of five children by herself.  Seriously - tag teaming ten in our two's class is easier.  I kid you not.  And that's with Big Bro behaving and acting in someone else's care.

And tonight - I decided to make a quick "non-cold" run into the grocery store to pick up a few essentials.  Dish soap and vinegar (for my handy dandy 'clean your shower while you're in it' contraptions), dish rags (because mine were rank, seriously), a loaf of bread (because we need bread, yo), and ice packs for the kiddos lunch boxes (since we were there and all).  Knowing we had 30 minutes and it was a ten minute drive, I figure we have all the time in the world.  Right?  Ahem.

So I'm clicking and buckling the kids back into the spaceship (I mean car, who invented all these snappys anyway?!) with 11 minutes to make it to t-ball practice.  Meaning, on the field.

So granted, we were in a bit of a hurry unsnapping all previously mentioned snappys and getting all the gear out of the car.  It wasn't until Coach called for first water break that I realized we'd forgotten Big Bro's hydration in the vehicle.  Grrr.

Now - two very important notes to include:

A.)  The field the kids practice on is the farthest from the parking lot.  As in - I can't even see the cars from there.

B.) One (of several) of the reasons we joined t-ball, is to make some friends outside of the church.

Okay - now that you know those things, I'll continue.

I reviewed our hydration problem in the few seconds I had to compute, "Ok, I don't know these people from anyone.  I can't just leave my kid here to go back to the car (with Little Sis) to get the water.  It's only like 60 degrees out today, the sun is not beating down.  Practice is only an hour.  He's not upset about it.  We're good."  To which I say to Big Bro, "I'm sorry, buddy, we forgot it in the car.  Can we wait until after practice this time?"  He's fine.  So we're good, right?

Well - coach calls for a lot of water breaks.  Which I'm thankful for, since we live in Texas now and all, but it was after the second one that the assistant coach brought Big Bro back over and shuffled through his own bag (near his wife, who I'd been chatting with), and said to Big Bro, "Here, B, let's see if I can help you."

Hello, Earth.  Open up and swallow me, please.

Out pops the little water bottle, with instructions, to me, to go fill it up at the water fountain.  I left Little Sister there with the people I didn't know. :/  Can I just get lost on the way to the water fountain, please?  The other's are probably more responsible for my kids than I am.


And so - a little humiliated - I try to brush it off and hydrate my kid with the best of them, when Little Sister decides - as she does so many other nights at practice (on an abbreviated nap from school) - that she's ready to join the boys playing t-ball.  And - of course - I restrain her and keep her from the beloved field she wants to frolic in, and she fits.  I mean high - speed come apart fits.  And nothing will make her happy.  And she's stomping her feet.  Then she's laying on the ground.  And - OMG - did I just tell these people I worked at our preschool!  Good grief!

I'm threatening time out.  "Yeah, right," she thinks.  "Put me down, I dare you."

I threaten a spanking, "Yeah, right," she thinks.  "They'll all turn you in.  You didn't even hydrate my brother."

Ouch, she's right again.

So what do I do (since, again, all of the parents and the boys are now staring at the screaming, crying, shrieking toddler that is flailing in my arms)?  I carry her as far out of earshot of the field as possible (where they can still hear - and clearly), where I stand with her for ten minutes before she finally gives up the ghost.  The demon, I mean.  Good gravy.

Jesus - if you'd like to come back now - I'm ready.

And the crying stops, and I walk back to the stroller, where she innocently goes back to trying to strap the strappies on her stroller.  Most of the parents don't even look at me.  Another gives me a look of some kind.  Is that a look of sympathy?  Or judgment?

Praise God, practice is over.

Can I have a minute, coach, I need to try to convince them all - it's not usually like this.  Really, I'm a good parent.  But my feet carry me quickly away, and as we are walking swiftly from the presence of the good parents, Little Sis, who rarely speaks, calls back to them, "Bye" with a big ole wave.

She's in on it.  She has to be.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Foul Homeruns and Dirty Cartwheels

Once upon a time I was a little girl, who played with baby dolls and dreamed of being a mom someday.  Even in my little girl dream I pictured myself sitting and watching my child(ren) play or participate in something they enjoyed.  I'll say it was a little surreal to sit during B's first t-ball practice, let me tell you.

We showed up early - B decked in baseball shirt (chosen by himself) and his Cardinals baseball hat (Go Cards!) - and B was introduced to Coach Ron.  It's amazing what this kid will do - without whining, may I add - when another person, specifically a person who is willing to play any kind of ball, asks him to do it. 

We - I mean, they - started off practice with some warm ups.  Don't want anyone on the DL list to start the season and all.  That's my little man there in the red hat holding his glove.  No sir, he wasn't putting it down!

Then - coach had the boys run the bases, calling out the name of each base as they stepped on it.  We don't want anyone running the wrong way in the heat of the moment, ya know.   (Though, my son did, later, run from first to third, straight across the pitcher's mound.  I kid you not.  This is a proud momma right here!)

And so - B had his shot playing first base, stopping and catching balls right and left and throwing them back in to coach.

He then got moved to shortstop, and later to third.  This little man of mine has an arm, let me tell you!  There's not a bit of sarcasm in that statement.  He's going to have his daddy's knack for all things sports.  I hope Ans' get's some of daddy's athleticism.  This momma has none.

And finally - the golden moment, the moment he'd been waiting for all night, the time to bat.  My son, yes, he loves to bat, and yes, he's good at it.  He's getting accustomed to batting off a tee, as he's used to being pitched to by the parentals, but he's hanging.  May I just mention, B just loves wearing his 'baseball shoes'.  Yes, he does.

And - after being coached multiple times to run to second when the ball was hit, alas, the ball was hit a short little hopping grounder right between first and second.  As if the pitcher and first baseman (who should have been on his base) weren't enough fielders for the ball, B thought he'd pile on and field the ball himself.  Ahem.

But no fear, folks, Coach picked him quickly from atop the pile and sent him onward to where 2nd base awaited his arrival.  

Unfortunately - my favorite moment of the evening was not captured in images, but B apparently had grown tired of waiting for the struggling little lad who was attempting to bat to make contact with the ball, and when I looked up for him when he should have been paying good attention on second, he was cartwheeling around the bag in the dirt.  I kid you not.  And you know, they were good cartwheels, too, I tell ya.  

At least he's not kicking dirt and picking flowers yet.  




Saturday, September 1, 2012

As Promised

So in my last post I told you a bit about our 21 day challenge to push into the Lord.  I believe I remember our pastor saying something to the effect of, "Be prepared, distractions will come your way if you make Jesus a priority."  Maybe he didn't.  Maybe I made that up.  Either way, they have. 

School is on the horizon, and when I say on the horizon, I mean we had two in-service days last week and meet the teacher, and school starts on Tuesday.  The proverbial 'horizon' may not even be close enough.  

So with the start of school, I personally have been busy trying to juggle housework now that I don't have any and every moment of every day to get around to it, I've been trying to get lesson plans squared away and prepared for (may I mention that I left all of my school material at school this weekend - doesn't exactly help get anything done), as well as get the kids packed up, prepared and ready for their first day.  

Those things I expected.  What I didn't expect is for my oldest to begin screaming and crying something fierce from his room on Thursday night, multiple times, after only complaining of a runny nose for maybe an hour prior to bed.  I was also not expecting him to be diagnosed with a pretty good ear infection less than 24 hours after the runny nose.  I then wasn't expecting the youngest child to wake up screaming from her nap majorly congested and with a gross runny nose when her brother was on his way home from the doctor.  Which means I wasn't expecting a trip to urgent care with her this morning.  (She's fine.)  

And aside from all of those 'non-expectations' - I also wasn't expecting three nights in a row (Tuesday, Wednesday & Thursday) of horrible, vivid nightmares on my part causing me a severe lack of sleep, and then to wake up with an awful migraine this morning.  

Distractions.  Let's all say it together.  

But anyway - Brother is on medication (a lot of it), but after his dose of antibiotic today should no longer be contagious.  (May I mention he never ran a fever!  Crazy.)  A has started Claritin (since her diagnoses was, and I quote, "it's either the very tale end of an upper respiratory virus, and she shouldn't be contagious at this point (though symptoms just started yesterday, doubt it's the 'tale end' of anything), allergies, which is very possible, or, hey, look there, she's getting another canine or two in.  Could be that!"  Why, thank you, Captain Obvious.  I could have told you that.  Just glad her ears are clear.  And all of that being said, they both were healthy for their meet the teacher extravaganza the other night!  Which is where the 'as promised' title comes into play!  I have pictures!

B has the privilege of having Ms. Becca and Ms. Melissa as his teachers this year.  He's here with Ms. Becca.  She's a new teacher at our preschool this year, like I am, and she seems very sweet!  He's so excited to start!  He even has two of his very good church friends in his class!  (Que the old girl scout song, "Make new friends, but keep the old...")

And here A is with her sweet teachers, Ms. Kay and Ms. Margaret.  I've known these women for all of four days and they are sweet like honey, let me tell ya!  I don't think I could have hand-picked more patient, sweet women to be with our one year olds!  Ansley isn't stoked to be in school, as if she realizes that she will be, but she cries every time I leave her at this age.  Plus side:  she's easily distracted and happy after about two minutes.  This will be good for her.  (Keep telling yourself that, mom.)  My room is right between my two kids' rooms, and I love that.  Close if something happens!  Don't mind her sweaty hair here.  See that slide in the background?  She had just dominated it.  

Speaking of my room, I thought you may like to see it, too! (Ahem - our room, Ms. Heather - I could not have done it without her.  We have a tiny room and it takes forever to get it the way you want it!  New respect for you, teachers!  Ms. Heather spent two afternoons taking down very distracting frog and cattail border.  Yikes!)  

Above you can see a couple of things:  the red / green pattern you see is our alphabet, with the 'letter of the week' board above it (A is for 'almighty'!), with our color charts on either side (our color of the month is red).  Our numbers are above our "blackboard" (which is really paper with the kids names posted with a clothespin to hang their 'go home' work for the day.  Our memory verse is in the green square in the middle).  Their table with their assigned seats is obviously right there on the bottom.  (May I mention how long it takes to make paper chains?  That used to be fun to make as a kid, didn't they?  Anyway.)

In this above picture is our shape chart, weather chart and our gumball machine (to help us learn our colors!)  This is where circle time will take place, and to the right is our changer.  We are early twos, remember.  Ten kids makes for a lot of diapers.  

And lastly, our door, the kids cubbies, and an "I'm here" chart.  We're only missing their pictures of them holding a sign with their names for them to move from one wall to the next when they come in.  

We are really excited with how it has come together!  Now we're excited to see the kids utilize it!  

Well, until next time!