Why Won’t My Child Apologize?

On Saturday morning, my oldest son had a melt down.  It started while he and our youngest were playing in the “club.”  (a/k/a a very large closet under our stairs).  Our oldest, who was inside the club, opened the door … Continue reading

What’s your “One Thing”?

It was a beautiful Palm Sunday afternoon. The sun was out. The sky was blue. The birds were singing. It was a much-needed sign that spring has arrived. Though winter wasn’t that harsh in Texas overall this year, we got … Continue reading

Dinner Delivered, Grace Received

About an hour ago, a precious woman from our church stopped by our house to drop off a home-cooked meal for us to enjoy for dinner.  Beef and corn casserole and all the fixings (think Frito pie…perfect for this dreary day we’re having).  Along with the casserole, she delivered a spinach salad.  Jello and brownies.  And an extra dinner salad for us to use later this week.  

Why?  

Just because.  

She messaged me on Facebook about two weeks ago asking if she could do this for my family.  

The “old me” (a/k/a me before we turned our lives upside down last summer) would have said, 

“Oh, that’s so sweet!  But I’m sure you’ve got other things to do.  I really appreciate the offer, but that’s so not necessary!”  

Yes, that’s what the “old me” would have said.  (She was ridiculous.)    

But I’ve come to understand something these last seven months about people who offer us their help.  They do so because (get this) THEY WANT TO HELP.  

And guess what?  We don’t have to be knee deep in a crisis to accept their offer!

So instead of thanking her for the gesture and then turning her down (which is a byproduct of the fact that, by nature, I’m a “doer” and a control freak), I eagerly said,

“Yes!  We would love that!  When can you come?”

And we scheduled it for this evening.  

But what neither of us knew when we made this date was that today, I would have a child home sick from school and would not be feeling well myself.  And we didn’t know that my niece and nephew would be spending the evening with us because my sister and her husband are moving into a new house today.  Yes, what I thought would be a typical Tuesday has, instead, been a day full of unexpected twists and turns.  

The meal would have been a blessing either way.  But it’s extra sweet today because I’m exhausted, one of my children doesn’t feel well, and I have extra mouths to feed this evening!

And so I ask you…

Do you struggle to accept help from others?  If so, why?  consider saying “yes” the next time an offer of help comes your way.  Whether you’re in desperate need of it or not.  Whether you think you deserve it or not.  Why not see it as an opportunity to experience a tangible expression of God’s grace in your life?  

On the other hand, how might you bless someone else with a kind gesture in the coming days?  Don’t underestimate the power of small acts of kindness.  To you they may seem small and insignificant, but to someone else, they may be HUGE!

Little Opportunities Offer Big Possibilities!

In preparation for one of my sermons this month, I was studying a passage in which Jesus comments on the seemingly insignificant actions of a poor widow.  He says to his disciples,

“I can guarantee this truth: This poor widow has given more than all the others. All of them have given what they could spare. But she, in her poverty, has given everything she had to live on.”

Mark 12:41-44. 

The words of Jesus got me thinking about all the times I’ve chosen not to participate in something because I thought that what I had to contribute would have little or no impact in the grand scheme of things. It seems like the more often I pass up the “little” opportunities to make a difference, the “big” opportunities that I’m waiting for never seem to come along. Sometimes, I look back and wish that I had just done something… anything, so that I would know that I had tried. Have you ever felt the same way? 

The next time you’re faced with a “little” opportunity, consider this story that I found in the June 12, 1994 publication of Our Daily Bread.

There’s a small courthouse in Ohio that stands in a unique location. Because of how the building sits on the property, all of the raindrops that fall on the north side of the building go into Lake Ontario and the Gulf of Saint Lawrence, while the rain that falls on the south side flows into the Mississippi River and ultimately ends up in the Gulf of Mexico. At precisely the point of the peak of the roof, even the slightest gust of wind can determine the destiny of a single raindrop…a difference of more than 2,000 miles.

That’s impressive, isn’t it? 

Sometimes the smallest deeds can have the biggest impact.  As a husband and father to a family that has experienced a lot of change and transition this year, I can attest to the significant impact that the kind gestures of others have had along the way.  A church member delivering a warm meal to our door step, a friend offering to babysit the kids so that we could get our old house cleaned out, or a relative showing up unannounced to help us unpack boxes after we moved.  To those who made these kind gestures to our family, your actions may have seemed like “little things.”  But to our family, during this particular season, these acts of kindness have served as “big” reminders that God’s goodness and provision are with us wherever we go.  God’s people will surround us with love and grace in this new place. 

Know this.  As insignificant as we might think certain acts of kindness and generosity may be, when we offer ourselves in service to God’s kingdom work, our lives begin to flow in such a way that tiny raindrops of faith become rivers and oceans of grace that transform countless lives and communities around the world.  So don’t miss the little opportunities.  They offer big possibilities!

In what “little ways” can you share the love of Jesus Christ with someone today?

 

The Power of a Greeting

I don’t know about you, but our parenting journey has included seasons where the fruit of our labor is so easy to see.  And then there are other seasons where that fruit is absent.  Devoid.  Nonexistent.  Wholly missing.  Shriveled up.  And seemingly rotten.  Or at least that’s how it appears on the surface.  In these times, we begin to doubt whether we will ever reach the next milestone, conquer the latest discipline issues, and see growth in our kids.

But we are learning to trust that, even in seasons of drought, God is alive and is working through our efforts as parents and in the hearts of our children.  Because just when we feel like throwing up our hands and giving up (or giving in), inevitably, God gives us a glimmer of hope.  This happened on Sunday.  Praise Jesus!

One of the issues we have struggled with lately is the manner in which our kids greet people in public.  They have been taught a moral baseline regarding our expectations.  When someone greets them, they are expected to give eye contact to that person and to provide a verbal response.  THAT’S IT.  We’re not asking them to run for governor or shake hands and kiss babies all day long!  ANYTHING beyond eye contact and a verbal response is their choice.  A hug.  A handshake.  Further conversation.

But we have been struggling with this, particularly in the morning when we are walking the kids to their classrooms at school.  And every time we do, we smile at the person getting the Heisman, shrug our shoulders, and say, “I’m so sorry.  We’re working on this.”  And then, Kory and I revisit the issue.  Again. 

Last week, though, we had a break through.  

I’ve been taking a Love and Logic class at our school, and it’s been a great refresher for me regarding the power of logical consequences — consequences put into the lives of my children that logically relate to the training issue we’re dealing with.  We’ve known about logical consequences for a while now, but this class has caused me to think them through more critically and to really ponder and pray, “Lord, what is the most logical consequence for this particular area of training?”  

So as Kory and I talked this over, it occurred to us.  It’s a privilege, not a right, to be walked to class.  And it certainly isn’t any fun to walk kids to class when they ignore everyone in their path.  If it’s a privilege, then what would happen if we took that privilege away?  

The next time we had an issue, we decided to find out.  We told our son that we would not be walking him to his classroom anymore until he came to us and told us that he was ready to extend common courtesy to those who greet us in the hallway.  Sounds small, but it had an impact.  Although he took his medicine like a champ, he was devastated.

Almost immediately, we began to see a change.  After two days of not being walked to class, we were noticing him not only responding to the greetings of others, but also going out of his way to be the greeter!  I even had a couple stop me at church on Sunday to compliment my son for the greeting he gave them when we sat down.  Wow.  

On the way home from church, we were listening to the radio.  The song, I Want To Live With Abandon, by the Newsboys, was playing.  

From the backseat, my son asked, “Mommy, what does it mean to live with abandon?”  

“To love Jesus with all your heart and to show the love of Jesus boldly to everyone you meet,” I answered.

He thought for a minute about what I had said, and then he asked, “so you get better?”  

“Yes, you get better.”  

And then he gave me a glimpse of the fruit — “So when I greet people, am I living with abandon?”  

“Yes!  Yes you are!”  I said.  

He was grinning from ear to ear when I caught his gaze in the rearview mirror.  I realized at that moment that my son wants to live with abandon!  We’re just in the process of teaching him how.  And it’s a marathon, not a sprint.

What milestones have you recently had with your children?  What milestones are you desperately hoping for?  

 

  

 

Reality Check!

It only takes about one week of school before the idealistic plans I have for my family’s morning routine go up in flames, and I am brought back to earth. Today — on the 6th day of school — the fire started. And it was a doozy, my friends. 

When my alarm went off at 6:00 this morning, I hit the snooze button twice. In. My. Sleep. (that’s my story, and I’m sticking to it). When I awoke 20 minutes later, and remembered that I was supposed to attend a tea for new moms at the school, panic set in because I actually needed to squeeze in a shower before getting the kids out the door — THAT was the death of any hope of having a peaceful morning with my family, and my feet hadn’t even hit the floor. (Not that I don’t shower on a regular basis. I’m just saying that there have been days when the demands of being a wife and mom have taken precedence over my personal hygiene. I hope someone can relate.) 

So I jumped in the shower, confident that at least my daughter would wake to her own alarm and get herself dressed, leaving me just enough time to get my shower in and throw on some clothes. But she also slept through her alarm. So when I climbed the stairs at 7:00, everyone was still asleep. 

I woke Taylor first to get her moving. She is my only indepenent child who can actually button, snap, and tie all articles of clothing, so starting there is always a good strategy. Then I woke Zachary and told him to start putting on his uniform while I ran downstairs to make sure Kory had started breakfast. Fortunately for me, he had. He is a great dad. 

Then, I flew back up the stairs to check on Zachary who was yelling from his room that he couldn’t find any of his uniforms. This was strange because I ironed a week’s worth of them on Sunday and set them on his bed to be put away. He didn’t do that. Instead, during a valient effort to tidy his room, he assumed they were dirty and threw them all in the dirty clothes. Fail. Back down the stairs to iron the chapel uniform…again. 

Once everyone was dressed, I got them downstairs for breakfast. Oatmeal with blueberries in it. Delicious. Except not to Taylor. She does NOT like what happens to blueberries when they are placed in warm oatmeal. (Kory forgot — poor guy.) She refused to eat her breakfast. Tears actually ensued. 

We opened the pantry to find something else to give her. But since we were out of milk, bread, eggs, and bacon there was little to choose from. So we gave her a Muscle Milk protein shake and some saltines. Yummy. 

While Kory was talking Taylor off the cliff over her breakfast, our youngest, Reed, who apparently is related to Stretch Armstrong, took his breakfast and created abstract art…on his back. Thankfully, we had not yet dressed him. Kory stripped his jammies off of him, wiped down the high chair, and spoon fed him the rest of his breakfast. 

But remember Zachary? We had dressed him and, bless his heart, he managed to spill the blueberry enfused oatmeal all over the front of his chapel shirt. THE ONE I JUST IRONED TWICE. The other one was in the dirty clothes with all of his other clean uniforms, so I fished it out, got the ironing board out again and went to work. I think tomorrow, we’ll eat in our jammies. And I won’t try ironing for the whole week again…waste of time! 

Finally, we got into the car. I turned on a Christian radio station to help lift our spirits, and we began the drive to school. After a few minutes, I turned the radio down and asked Taylor to lead us in prayer since our wheels-off morning hadn’t including anything spiritual. 

But as she began to pray, I found myself stuck in the same left-turn only lane I have been forgetting every day for a week now to avoid. So while Taylor prayed for a peaceful and calm day, I put the pedal to the metal of my red minivan and darted out into traffic so that I could get into the next lane. She actually stopped mid-prayer and said, “whoa…what was that?” I ignored her. 

Finally, we made it to school, at which point I realized I was driving on fumes. I didn’t have my cell phone, and my wallet was on the kitchen counter at home. Geeze. The ride home would harken back to one of my all-time favorite Seinfeld episodes where Kramer decides to drive as far as he possibly can without getting gas. It was funny when he did it! It was NOT funny when I had to do it! 

But I did make it home. And when I walked into the house, I finally breathed. And then I did laugh. The scene we had left was something right out of a movie. No family could possibly be this messy. Except we were. And we are.  I let it go.      

I have a friend who has wisdom beyond my own at least three-fold. We are both Christians, and we are both attorneys. But her kids are grown, and I always treasure her perspective. At lunch several years ago, during a discussion about the busyness associated with raising young children, she shared with me that her definition of “maturity” is “the constant lowering of expectations.” Those words stuck with me, but I believe they have only recently begun to take root in my own heart and soul. 

To be clear — my friend is not saying that we should live lives of mediocrity. She is a dedicated member of her church, she is an amazing wife and mom, and she is a successful attorney. But what she is saying is that it’s liberating to recognize our imperfections as we strive to live a life of contentment in light of God’s grace. 

So that is what I’m trying to do, particularly amidst life in the “daily grind.” I have high expectations for myself as a Christian, as a pastor’s wife, as a mom, and as a professional. And I have high expectations for my family. But I am also trying to let go of things that have no eternal significance, focus my energy on the things that do, and embrace God’s grace as the path that leads to a life of contenment. 

And that is my prayer for my family and for each of you.

As a new blogger, I have been encouraged to include photos with each of my posts. But who has time to take photos when the task of getting kids ready for school is about to take you down? So I snapped this photo later in the day because it was simply cute. Why are they wearing tails, you ask? Because that’s the way we roll!

What idealistic plans are you learning to let go of?  This mom of three would love to learn from your experiences!