Friday, January 6, 2012

Awesome-Sauce Christmas!

I can't believe how much time has passed since I last posted!! But then again so much has happened I hardly know where to begin... Let's just sum it up by saying WOW!!

Seriously - I wasn't entirely sure I would survive this holiday season! I truly learned the definition of "my cup runneth over!" We (The Salvation Army of Spartanburg) were so blessed with in-kind donations of toys this season (THANK YOU MARINES & TOYS FOR TOTS!) that I could hardly keep up with the unpacking, sorting and distribution of all the incredible toys!! There are so many kids in our community that were richly blessed this Christmas!! So fun to be a part of it!

I say all of this with true gratitude in my heart and I have never been so overwhelmed by community support... so please don't misunderstand me when I share this next bit... in the midst of the 14-16 hour days of December I began to feel much like Christmas was more of a disaster services mission than a holiday joy. The organizing of a warehouse, the training and utilization of very eager volunteers, the press and media involvement... the only other time we have such a flury of activity is during national disasters. And the more this thought got in my head the more irk-some it became because I certainly didn't want to approach Christmas with yuck in my heart towards the greatest celebration next to Easter that there can possibly be!! I prayed and prayed over these feelings and stepped out in joy each day and pepped through each volunteer orientation, interview, and bag check with a smile on my face hoping that my inner conflict wasn't visible...

...and then came the peace!! I began to identify with the shepherds who were doing their jobs - the tedious, nonstop work of herding stubborn, stinky goats and sheep - when the great host of angels appeard to them singing, "Glory to God in the highest!!" I began to identify with Mary - this huge labor is such a blessing, yet am I able to the task? I even felt like the innkeeper at times - seriously, there's just no more room - not for one more thing - only to see God reveal again His awesome ability to make a way.

I always expected that the first Christmas I had as a mother would be the most emotional one of my life. And - in many ways perhaps it was... all the same, this year seriously rivals it! I felt connected to every aspect of the History in ways I never imagined possible! So Christmas morning arrived, and as we prepared for worship I was seriously giddy!! I couldn't wait to get to church and sing with my family, "Joy to the world! The LORD has come!" All the work, all the hours, all the dreams of large black bags, box cutters, and NUMBERS!! - it all paled in comparison to that incredible morning! JESUS! JESUS! JESUS!!! From disaster to advent to revelation - a season of - as my 9-year-old J is so fond of saying lately - awesome-sauce!

Hope to post more mundane - yet adorable things tomorrow - craft projects, hair cuts and new adventures! This is a happy new year! It has started with a flurry of fun and energy and I'm so super excited!!!!! YAY!! And a giddy good night!!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

A Week of Challenge

Exodus 14:14, "The Lord will fight for you. You need only be still."

When I read this in a text last Thursday evening I had no idea how much I needed it! The funny thing was that I had been searching for that reference when a dear friend (love you Tracey girl!) sent it my way! And like I mentioned, I had no idea how much I would come to rely on its promise over the next few days!

Saturday was absolutely a wonderful day with my kiddos! We played games, we joked around, we had a blast!! AWESOME!! Sunday morning worship was fantastic! Again - incredible time! Sunday afternoon, however, the figurative grey skies moved in - big time!

Joshua, my 9-year-old son, got very upset with me because we were not spending the afternoon at home but were going out of town for the evening to attend a worship service in Columbia. He pouted the entire way to the meeting. He huffed and puffed the entire time we were in the meeting. And, being the mom I am, I pulled him out during the meeting and took away some privileges. Clearly, this did not improve the mood!

The battle continued all the way home, and very quickly took a rather scary turn. Joshua, with a very "let's see how you deal with this one Mom" attitude, stated that he wasn't sure he really bought into all this "God stuff." He expressed a belief that it was all make-believe and that when we die that is it. I tried my very hardest not to react to the attitude and add fuel to the fire of his frustration. We talked about it and I presented arguments for Christ that I thought he would be able to comprehend and process, but still he was adamant that I was wrong and he was right.

I shared with my husband Ray all that was going on and his opinion was that Joshua was just trying to strike me where it would cut the deepest out of his anger that I had taken away some of his privileges... what can you say - nine year old boys are rough! I prayed and tried to be OK with this but just couldn't let it go! I mean, although I want Joshua's decision to be a Christ follower to be authentically all his own, it's so difficult for my mother's heart to hear him doubt and question the one thing I want for him to believe in above and beyond anything else in life - the most important thing!

So I struggled and cried and prayed... and then it dawned on me that in a lot of ways Joshua is just like me and as an almost adolescent he's probably struggling with so many of the same identity issues I dealt with - what is personal power, how do I use it, who am I apart from my parents, what do I have control over???? With that in mind I redoubled my efforts to come up with creative solutions to the real problem - Joshua's desire to get his own way and be able to decide for himself some things. So, I prayed for the direction of the Holy Spirit and stopped asking "Jesus-y" questions. What are things that Joshua can help decide for himself and for our family?

What did the Holy Spirit lead me to? Well... a couple of fairly basic things... When I pick Joshua and Isobel (our daughter) up from school I give them a dinner ballot. On the ballot are the choices of main dishes, side dishes, or restaurants we will enjoy for dinner that night. If the two ballots don't agree we work together to come to a common ground by presenting rational reasons for our selection and come to a consensus. Another way we're addressing this need of Joshua's for personal success, identity, and exertion of personal power is to play video games with him. Most games he can beat me at with his eyes closed and the controller behind his back - yes - I'm that bad... the positive lesson of self expression comes when he either whoops me and has to win graciously, or when he has to give me instructions on how to play. I'm finding that when I show him I'm willing to listen to him, acknowledge his strengths, and give him choices within healthy parameters we get along SO much better!

It's been three days now... a long three days! And last night as we sat at the dinner table Joshua leans over and in a half whisper says, "I'm sorry mom. For the way I acted this morning [he had acted out harshly towards his sister], and for the things I said on Sunday night. I'm really, truly sorry." Ahhh - a sigh of relief, of joy, and of thanksgiving!

All this to say a handful of things - 1)The Lord is fighting for you - if only you will be still and trust in Him! 2) It's important to make sure our kids know we believe in them and love them even when we don't agree or love the things they are saying. 3) Our kids need the space to grow on their own but need healthy boundaries to do it within and... 4) Adolescence is gonna make me CRAZY!!

Do you have a similar story or experience? Post a comment sharing the solutions, suggestions and creative parenting God led you to in order to deal with the situation!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Interest in Pintrest!!

Sew.... my favorite thing ever!!! I use the word "so" like crazy and my favorite past time is needlecrafting aka hand-sewing!! And.... I love finding free patterns, ideas and basically reading up on things other folks have made and getting inspiration!

Now - note the totally cute embroidered doll designed by Hillary Lang of WeeWonderfuls fame, and handsewn by me and my girlie! Enter! I know I may be the last to jump on this fad - and in fact I actually started a pintrest board months ago and ended up getting booted for never actually pinning anything! At any rate - what a fantastic idea!!! I'm getting things lined up for church projects, mother-daughter projects, blog posts, presents.... seriously - I could spend all day looking through other people's projects and ideas and never get bored!! The question now is this - how to find the time for all the sewing my hands - and heart - long to do!!!

That's pretty much how I approach everything in life - loads of great ideas, lots of great intentions but TIME - where are you?! Ballance is something I struggle with constantly! If you're like me, and you have too much on your plate, too many balls in the air and your cup runneth over and over and over - there is hope! Or at least solace... We can be taught!!!

"Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom" Psalm 90:12

God wants to teach us so many things - not the least of which is how to make our days count - afterall, they are limited here on this earth... He wants our hearts desires to match His. He wants us to spend our time wisely... He wants us to learn to walk in His way and to follow Him! What excited me about this is that sometimes He leads me to quiet my mind in His pressence with a needle and thread in my hand. Sometimes, He teaches me through interacting with one of His greatest gifts to me - my little girl - as we explore the gift of design that He has given her! Somedays, I'm blessed to gain wisdom as I explore my hearts desire and learn lessons from those more experienced than I when it comes to pen & paper, scizzors, patterns, and life!

Get a little perspective. Explore what thrills your soul - and allow God to use those "teachable" moments as you gain a heart full of wisdom abounding in the knowledge of His great grace!


Good morning!!! I'm really excited to be starting this new venture in blog-world!! I enjoy writing and sharing my thoughts and passions and all that jazz!!! Although this is not a terribly exciting first post, I'm still trying to learn how to use blogger and promise that by the end of the week there will be something incredibly fabulous to read!!! Ok - there will be something to read - the fabulousity of it is completely up to you!!