He Leads, I Buck

My mom is in a Bible Study and sent me an excerpt from the study they are doing.  It said, “The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall want my own way.  He will make me lie down in green pastures, but I will keep getting up and wondering off to eat dead grass. He’ll pull me to quiet waters, but I will refuse to drink.”  LOL! The author went through and wrote a parody of sorts to Psalm 23 of what we end up doing to our good Shepherd. It made me laugh.

Well today, I did just that.  I ate dead grass.

I was Thanksgiving wasted.  (If you’ve seen Grown Ups 2 you will know what I mean) I did absolutely nothing for a full 48 hours. It was LOVELY!  My kitchen didn’t much appreciate the neglect and by this morning, I was pretty sick of it myself. Baby Grace work up earlier then expected for her morning milk. I was slow-moving after that. I didn’t want to go to church.  I wanted to stay home.  I wasn’t ready to go back to regular life yet.  I got the baby ready.  Jazmine and my husband had already been up and out to Dunkin Donuts. All that was left was for me to shower and get in the car.  Then my husband said, “I didn’t think you were going to church this morning?” All I heard was permission to return to bed. I took it.

As I was shooing them out the door and preparing to put the baby down for her nap, we found out that some friends were coming to our church today. Well, by that time, it was too late for me to shower to be in the car with them. By the time I was ready, even if I drove, I would miss more than half of the service. It was a loss.  I felt terrible.  God had once again provided me with cool water in a thirsty land and I missed it to stay home and do me.

I stayed home a couple of months back feeling the weight of the world on my shoulders.  That time I had my quiet time and prayer instead of going to worship only to find that not just one but two visitors came to see us that Sunday and I missed it.  God had provided still waters to drink from but I refused.

After today, I will push through on Sunday regardless of how I feel.  Barring sickness of me, my husband, or girls, or some other real need, I will be in the house of the Lord Sunday morning.  I am not going to miss another drink 😉

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Just Keep Sowing

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My Jazmine LOVES community! This girl craves interacting with other people, be it children or adults.  She loves meeting new people and will chat them to kingdom come! Because Jaz was an only child for so long, I found myself always looking for people she could engage with. That constant line of thought lead to asking some of her local cousins to attend Vacation Bible School (VBS) with her two years ago. I picked them up and took them all to VBS with us. They thoroughly enjoyed it! I was a bit run down though.  It was hard being the adult in charge of three children that I knew and are related to but that I didn’t really know well. I was learning their temperaments, needs, likes, and dislikes in the short trip from their home to our church and back. I had a bit of anxiety about being summoned as the adult responsible for them while we are at VBS because I didn’t know what their expected normal behavior was.  They weren’t disobedient but they required a bit more teaching then what I was used to doling out.  Suffice it to say, I was glad when that VBS week ended.

That VBS week lead to more fellowship opportunities with them and I became more assured of their listening to me. I took them to VBS the following year as well.  We continued to get the cousins together. In fact, we now have a tradition of filling Samaritan’s Purse Shoeboxes together every year!  In our times together, I always kept an ear and eye out to see if any Jesus seed sown was coming up.  I didn’t see anything. I got discouraged.

I didn’t pick up the cousins much in the last year.  Most of that was due to pregnancy and then having baby Grace.  I didn’t take them to VBS either. This year, Jazmine attended VBS at another church as a guest of a friend of hers. Our former church had VBS at a different date.  Jazmine could have attended but I opted not to take her.  I figured she had already done that program at a church with a huge Children’s Ministry so no sense of having her attend the same program done on a smaller scale. But really, I didn’t want to go pick up the cousins again.  I figured that “it” (meaning taking them to church and pouring Christ into them) wasn’t working anyway because I hadn’t seen any fruit.

A few months ago, I saw a video posted on Facebook by the cousins’ grandmother.  It was a video of those same cousins getting baptized!  Their grandmother wrote that they were informed Thursday evening that the cousins were going to be baptized.  She said the kids quietly wake up every Sunday morning to catch the Church Bus and go to church on their own. I was, and still am, TOTALLY amazed at God! When I saw the post, it was as if God whispered in my ear “you had a hand in this”.  I feel deeply honored then immensely sad.

I dropped my hand from the plow.  I didn’t sow into those children this year like I could have. I deliberately decided not to do VBS because of what it would cost me (time) and that I could not see any “results”.  Well, now the sowed seeds are up and the harvest is bountiful and all I can think of is I wish I had sown more.

A Decision Dilemma — Cells Of Life

I am sharing the following blog with permission

Romans 13:1-2 (ESV) Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. 2 Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. Acts 5:29 (ESV) 29 But Peter and the apostles answered,…

via A Decision Dilemma — Cells Of Life

Family Rhythm

I struggle with giving myself room to grow (also known as giving yourself grace).  I feel like a punk if I can’t hit the bar I’ve set for myself especially since I’ve had that bar in place for most of my adult life and usually hit it 100% of the time. Now, I’ve had to digest that I have two children (one of whom is an infant) and moving into our new home is a big deal!

Now, I know it’s a big deal.  It is a long-awaited milestone for us; a huge accomplishment and answer to many, Many, MANY prayers.  I’m not referring to that part of it being a big deal. I am referring to the adjustment of it all.

For YEARS, I have struggled to be the woman of my household even though we lived with another woman in her home.  I missed out on a lot of things young people learn when they live on their own.  I can work in a budget.  Managing money isn’t the issue. The responsibility of it all is. What to keep stocked in the house?  How much is enough? How much is too much? Dinner plan? When to wash? When to clean? Clean regularly? As needed? Both?

You learn this when you first start out.  I was learning this when my husband and I got our first apartment before poo-poo it the fan. Then, I was stripped to nothing. Let me back up and bit and say, yes, I know God is and was in control of all of that and we, my husband and I both, needed to be stripped of things.  Our marriage is far superior now then what it was headed to be 12 years ago. That being said, I am now in my thirties learning what twenty-somethings are learning.  I feel like an 18 yr old high school freshman. We have married friends that are younger than us that are more mature in this area than we are. It is very humbling.

But I am learning.  I am giving myself room to grow, day-by-day, minute-by-minute, if need be. I am just so happy to finally be here!  I have a baby!  I have a home that is all mine!  I love being in my home so much and FINALLY being released from the Ark, rarely do I want to go anywhere but I have a 7yr old that needs good amounts of sunshine and fresh air.  I have to make myself plan playground trips because I would rather just sit and enjoy my space. But that is a good “problem” to have. I would much rather be where I am today then where I was five weeks ago 🙂

Much Faith Required

I am going to make this post quick.  Every Monday, I feel the pressure of not having had a post scheduled to go. I have several post I could write in my brain but I am unsure when it will make it to computer screen.

That being said, I have 58% power on my laptop so I have to write fast in order to get this post ready.

God has seriously given me another growth spurt in my prayer life.  I know faith is the key.  Faith is the only way to please God. I’ve not only exercised more faith, I have upped the ante on what to ask God for.  He still works miracles you know!  I am carrying one right now in my womb.  If that isn’t reason enough to ask for big things in life, I don’t know what is.

I can not go into detail right now about what I am asking God for but believe me, it is big! It takes a lot more to see a work performed in people’s hearts and transform minds than it is to make a prototype for a new invention.  That’s saying something because prototypes are HARD work!

I don’t do New Year’s resolutions.  If I am seeking to make a change, I start when I start.  I don’t need a certain day or say I will start after a certain event.  What I am describing is not a New Year’s resolution.  It is a more spiritually mature way to approach God in faith with prayer.

I hope to blog more soon.

Woman! Beware of the Pitfalls! Part 1: Crushed By Your Own Standards

Behaving as a victim of her own standards and demanding everyone in earshot do the same  –http://shereadstruth.com/2015/07/22/martha/

 

This statement began the entire thought process for this series.

A huge pitfall that women face is becoming a victim of the very standards we have for ourselves and then demanding that others meet that same standard. Let me give you a real life example.

Standard: You must never be late.

Martha is always on time and is very self righteous in her timeliness.  There is never an acceptable reason or excuse for one to be late in her book. However, one day, Martha was late. Not only was she late, she was the last person to arrive when everyone else in her party was gassed up an ready to go. She walked without haste to the waiting cars and did not apologize but she did exude an air of you-better-not-say-anything-to-me-about-being-late because if you do, I’m going to let you have it. So she forced her ill temper on everyone else in the party. If the situation was reversed, she would have found a way to let the tardy person know how she felt about her tardiness.

That is a general example but you can see how the effect of your standards can ripple toward others. Not only are you crushed by your own standards but you crush others with it.  Standards in and of themselves are not the problem.  Our take on our standards can be problematic.

Martha’s take on her standard was that it is the rule at all cost.  When she fell victim to it, instead of assessing her standard, she enforced her failure on others.

Let us stock of our own standards.  If we are crushed by them, how might they be making others feel?

24 HOURS!

The count down has begun!

We are less than 24 hours away from all of the big kids returning back to their mothers!

HALLELUJAH!

I need them to go.

I am beginning to hate the month of July.  This July was harder because I was dealing with first trimester symptoms on top what turned out to be a grueling schedule.  The schedule would have remained fun and enjoyable had it not been for the fatigue, sour stomach, and just an overall feeling of being uncomfortable. I will GLADLY those symptoms because I want my baby but had I known I was going to be pregnant, I would not have committed to the schedule I had.

We had a business trip, family vacation, and a day at the amusement park.  I hate to admit it but it was too much for this pregnant lady.  Others could have handled it well but I could not.

It wasn’t just the activity.  It was the family dynamic.

Bella is almost 17 now and, had she been a grown woman who I met, we would be on a hi/bye level of association and nothing more.  But because she is husband’s daughter, I do a lot more ‘grin and bear it’ instead of cut loose and run away. Anthony is 13 and has been with us the longest this summer.  Ever since he was little, after a few weeks, we both would look at each other with a ‘I am ready to go back to my life now’ expression. This year, that time has come and gone but we could not be rid of each other just yet. Scott is 12 and is a bit of a drama king. He is 100% male and full boy but enjoys dramatic behaviors and speech. I hate drama.  As soon as I detect drama, I do an about-face and walk away.  Can’t do that here.

Much of July has felt like an imprisonment that I needed to grow through. Not that the imprisonment would leave or lessen, but one that I had to learn how to navigate in through Christ. I have truly embraced the mindset that I cannot change any aspect of my big kids in any visit they have with us. I can only impart wisdom, live life in front of them, and practice what I preach. If I had to grade myself, I would give myself a C- for July.  I was probably better but because of my overall crappy feeling, I can’t be sure I didn’t earn that grade.

I have mapped out this final day of a house full before I return to my glorious regular life! After two of the four come in from outside, they will eat lunch.  After lunch, I will run to the Redbox and get a movie for them to enjoy. After that, it will be time for my husband to take Bella to work (yes, girlfriend has a job) and he is taking everyone with him (WOOHOO!) When they return it will be time for dinner and then to pack up for tomorrow’s departure (YIPPEE!). After that, bed.  The first departure is at 8AM tomorrow and the second departure is at 10:30AM. When I walk back into this house at noon, I will be one happy chick!

Now, just for the record, I know as anxious as I am for these children to be gone, they are equally as anxious to get up out of here as well. Works for me!

I Almost Forgot It Was Christmas

November, 24, 2014.  December, 3, 2014.  The events of those dates have occupied my brain.  I am married to a black man.  I have black sons. My father is a black man.  My brother is a black man.  Many of my friends have black sons.  I directly felt the injustice.

In the days following, more tragic cases have surfaced involving similar injustices as Mike Brown and Eric Garner. It could have been any man; any black man specifically.  Chrystal Evans Hurst wrote a timely post.  It was published February of this year but is eerily relevant in light of recent events. Benjamin Watson really summed up my feelings about it all.  My emotional nerve endings have been super sensitive since November, 24 and only increased in their sensitivity.

But something happened today.

There is a woman at our homeschool group who, from off-color things she has said, strikes me as someone who prefers not to associate with black people. Our homeschool group is mixed but the black families make up about 50%-60% of the group. I have pulled back from having some normal interactions with this woman because I don’t want her to slip up on the wrong day and I be present.  (The verbal licking I could give her would not be holy).  Today, I was hoping that she not share her side or opinion with me, regardless of what it might be, because if the layer of onion was pulled back far enough to reveal ugly thoughts about my skin color, the skin color of which my child has and this woman is one of her teachers….and that is where I caught the thought.

Praise God, I was able to overcome this thought train of destruction with Philippians 4:8-9.  After that, I had another open heart talk with Jesus and I told Him all about my hatred for injustice, any injustice.  It was then I was reminded that injustice happens everywhere and, unfortunately, all the time.

“Injustice anywhere affects everyone” – said someone but I don’t remember who so I can’t give them credit.

Was it unjust for Nero to throw Christians in the arena with lions? Yes.  Was it unjust for Jews to be murdered when Hitler had power? Yes.  Was American Slavery unjust? Yes. Is human trafficking unjust? Yes. Was it unjust for Filipinos to be discriminated against?  Yes.

Injustice is rampant. The amount of press a particular unjust act gets is the only reason we are made aware of unjust acts that we are not personally involved in.

Once I refocused on Christ, only then could I find peace in the midst of this wave of emotions.  I thought about all the injustice that has occurred and still occurs. Injustice isn’t new but it is just as horrendous.

The entire book of 1 Peter is written to “pilgrims of the Dispersion” aka Jews who left Jerusalem due to the persecution they experienced because they followed the Way (Acts 9:2). Peter divinely inscribed how Christians are to live amidst all of the unjust things that were happening around them and to them.

It is no different from now.  Now is just as tragic as ANYTHING that has happened before.  That statement is not to minimize or trivialize any unjust act that has occurred at any time.  It is, however, a statement of fact that sin is rampant and will not let up until Christ returns.

Speaking of return, once I mediated on God and His word, my nerve endings are not waiting for a reason to go off.  Now that I am refocused on Christ, I just remembered.  His birthday is coming up!

Happy birthday Jesus!  Thank you for coming to save us!

Happy birthday Jesus! Thank you for coming to save us!

 

Figuring Out My Child

From a very young age, some parents know the make-up of their child. At four months old, they can tell if the child is curious (nosey).  At 13 months old, they can tell if the child is a runner or a climber.  At two years old, the parent knows if they have a future reader in the family due to the amount of books the child wants read to them each day. Around 4, a parent can see that they have a dancer if that is all their pre-schooler likes to do.

I admire those parents.  I admire them having a clear-cut lane of interest their child likes with which to begin building around. From Jazmine’s infancy, I have been watchful (hopeful?) that I would pick up on, see, identify what her niche was.

This child is 5 years old and I got nothing.

She loves to dance…freestyle.  We are currently enrolled in a dance class and, she says she enjoys it but it’s not the joy of a dancer. She hates coloring. She dabbles in many things but nothing seems to stick.

This morning, this very morning as I am typing this, I was planning on being in the process of gets us out the door to get to a jump place with trampolines everywhere.  I decided to take her last night and told her of my plans.  I was so excited.  I was stepping out of the box and enjoying our homeschooling flexibility. I had it all planned out.  We would awake, eat breakfast, get ready, go jump, return home for lunch, a bit of rest, then school. (Insert buzzer sound here) Wrong.

My child awakens with some kind of phantom stomach pain. Ok. We can handle that.  I remind her of our morning jump plans.  Her response, “But Mommy, I don’t want to be tired when we leave and all that jumping makes me tired.”  Are you kidding me! Seriously!?!? You are a child!  This should be right up your alley!  We’ve been twice and you enjoyed it immensely! I am so done right now.  Not to mention that I was excited about going.  It was two hours of fun exercise for me too!

I am going to have a serious talk with my mother. I remember not wanting to participate in activities that made me sweat unless other kids my age were involved. I didn’t begin to enjoy exercise until I was in High School. I need to know when I, if I, turned a corner into being somewhat predictable in my habits, likes, and dislikes when it came to activities.  I keep looking for signs but I get shot down at every turn.

No matter.  That’s my little girl.  If she only wants to go to the park when her neighborhood buddies are outside, fine.  If she would rather stay in the house with her grandmother instead of going places with me, so be it.  She does like to cook…She loves to be around and interact with ALL people….If she could get paid for talking, we’d be Rockefellers…When asked, she’ll tell you that she enjoys science and math… Hmm

Maybe I missed a sign after all.  Maybe, just maybe, I was looking for other things to present in my child when all along she has been showing me who she is and the lane she likes to be in.  Maybe… 🙂

Bad Mom Day

For those of you who wish you could reset the day, I hear you.

I raised my voice. I yelled. I was short tempered more than I was even tempered. I over reacted. I felt like my emotional nerve endings were exposed and I was boxing anyone who even looked like they were going to bother me.

I was a terrible Mommy today.

Jazmine started sneezing a few days ago. That is her body’s way of saying it needs help fighting allergens. Did I pay attention? No. I did not start giving her her allergy medicine daily. I did not give her her nose spray. I did not put Vaseline in her nose. What did all that grant me? A child who has a moderate case of post nasal drip on the eve of our family vacation.

This was not my finest hour.

Allergies shouldn’t happen in the summer time! That is what I told myself. Because I did not listen to her body until she started blowing her nose, Jazmine is now suffering. She is sleeping but not without drippy phlegm noises and I, trying to make penance, have not left her side.

I was moody before. Now I am borderline weepy. Why did I yell? Why couldn’t I have listened to her ask the same question for the tenth time in the space of 15 seconds? She didn’t do anything new today? She talks like that EVERYDAY! I don’t know why I am so short. Anthony and Scott are here. That has added some change to my routine. Being Step-Mom to two tween boys can wear the nerves but it’s not their fault either. It’s no ones fault. It was just a sucky day with no cause for it.

I keep telling myself that bad days don’t make bad moms. It is hard to accept that truth in the midst of my feelings telling me otherwise. Y’all pray for me and please pray that I can get rid of her post nasal drip before tomorrow night.