Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Do-Over?

It was barely 8:30 around the breakfast table- sort of early for questions like this one. I was sitting in my usual spot, book opened, ready to “spiritually train” my children. Just a few days before, we had discussed things like jealousy, envy, greed, selfishness-- you know, those things that come so easily, so naturally, so often. This particular morning we were to tackle revenge. I don’t know about your kids but these subjects don’t require a song and dance to get Julia and Brighton’s full attention. It’s juicy stuff to them-- the “hush hush” kind of behavior-- walking on the wild side by just merely talking about it-- sort of like potty talk. Rapt. After breakfast prayers over steamy oatmeal, their ears were perked and ready to hear more stories about naughty children. We covered a few scenarios of children exercising their sin nature like breaking someone’s beloved toy on purpose, taking a toy from someone’s home without asking, tripping a person to delight in their fall, or saying something to hurt someone’s feelings on purpose. I used my name in some and their names in others causing sideways glances, giggles and smirks. So, of course, we read in Luke 6 how God tells us to respond-- in kindness, blessing and praying for those who hurt us. Julia was still enjoying her oatmeal, but Brighton had put his spoon down. At first, I couldn’t tell if this was computing or not. Was it the testosterone or his strong sense of justice? I could tell by the look on his face the instruction of not getting revenge was

as alien to him as it was to the people Jesus shared it with first. We talked through it several times, walked back through the scenarios and reviewed how Jesus asked us to respond. My six year old looked awfully disappointed. He stared, he squirmed, he sighed and finally, he spoke.....very seriously as though his next snack depended on it,


“Is this my fake life or my real life?”


Now it was my turn to stare and squirm. “What?? What do you mean ‘fake’?”


“You know, like PRACTICE. You go back to heaven and come back as a baby and get to do it again?”


My answer gave him no comfort of trying to get this strange act of “being kind to those who hurt you” right........... now. Not later, not tomorrow, not in his “do-over” life, but now.

Dreaming of a "do-over" in my childhood bed in Soperton........

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Overheard at My House


How soon we forget....... Just when I think I would NEVER forget the funny thing she said, I find myself thumping my fingers at the computer or on the steering wheel not 5 minutes later wondering what in the world it was that struck me so funny. I find strips of newspaper, receipts, and church bulletins in all sorts of places-- my Bible, my closet, the laundry room-- where I have scratched down the string of words that made me grin. There are a few I can't read, but I don't dare throw away hoping for a moment of genius in translation. I have shared these in my margin of my blog along the way, but of course, I want a record of these quirky words and ideas. So here are my favorites from 2009.

6:45 am: From a little blonde boy on Jeff’s side of the bed, “Daddy, I can see it in your eyes………..you want to play the Wii.”

Standing in the laundry room ironing, probably Easter weekend: Julia walks by and says, “Mom, whatcha doin’?” “Girl, you know what I am doing. Ironing.” “I know, but I have never seen you do it before.” She’s seven.

We sat down for breakfast and looked at our calendar to find out who we were to pray for that day. Brighton was curious so he asked, “Who is it today?” I said, “Our president, Barak Obama.” A horrified look came to Brighton’s face. “DID GEORGE WASHINGTON DIE??” I did my best

to explain the delicate matter of a beloved President passing away some 300 years ago. 5 days later- same time, same scene. Here is Brighton’s prayer: “Dear God, Just keep John ‘Corin’ our ‘sinner’ (Senator) safe. And keep him healthy and keep his whole family safe and my whole family safe. Keep ‘Bark’ Obama safe and his whole family safe. I just thank you for George Washington and that he was our president and now he is dead. Keep him safe with you now that he is with You and has a new body and I know it is beautiful."

Julia was telling me how her art teacher, Mrs. Cheek, was going to use some of their class’ money to send some chickens to Africa during the Christmas season. I asked Julia if she knew if it was through Samaritan’s Purse or Compassion International. She looked at me as if I was crazy, lowered her eyes and said, “I am SURE it is through Compassion International because you know they can’t fit chickens in a shoe box!”

American Girl Samantha made our last road trip with us. We returned to our hotel from dinner and Samantha was sitting in the corner. Julia was mortified that she had forgotten to “put her down” for bedtime. As she is putting on Sam’s nightgown she says, “I know in the morning she is just going to be kind of ‘honk shoo’ ?” I’m thinking what??? Feng Shui? What? “Julia, what in the world does that mean?” Buttoning the back of the gown, she looks at me and says, “You know, Mom. ‘Honk shoo’,” and then does her best snoring imitation, “Hooooonk shooooooooooo……hooooooook shoooooooo.”

24 hours after tooth-picked sweet potato carefully rests over cup of water, Brighton yells, “Momma! Come quick! My potato has 10 roots coming out of it!!!” A little suspicious, I asked, “B, are you speaking the truth?” Hesitation, as there always seems to be after this question….. “Well………” eyes roll upwards. “Well, Mom, if you cross your eyes, it LOOKS like 10 roots coming out of the bottom.”

After practicing the Doxology for the second time: Julia announces, “ Hey Brighton! This is the song we can sing at Momma and Daddy’s funeral!” Nice thought.

Early in December, Brighton handed me one of his first nativity scenes of the season. As usual, I looked it over for all his little details and I saw something a little unusual. There were little balls under the manger so I asked him about the bed in which Baby Jesus was sleeping. He grabbed the paper and his finger landed on the manger and said, “That’s Baby Jesus in the wheelbarrow. Those are the wheels, Mom.”

“Mom, why in Soperton, do they shoot reindeer?” Soperton is my hometown in South Georgia where the Saturday morning show is in the backs of pickups.

Pictures: Julia and our grown puppy, Gabriel, Brighton enjoying his whipped cream, B trying on Gabe's "cone of shame" and Julia with her "Lake Girl" hoodie from Papa


Tuesday, April 13, 2010

From Beginning to End


Home is home. Simple.
Home is the place where you begin and the place where you end.
Home is warm and cozy.
Home is your home. Simple. Your home.


I am figuring out as a home schooler, there will always be areas I feel as though I am failing miserably. If, for a week, math and history are strong, something, for a week, has sat unopened, unexplored, unseen, unread and undone. And sadly, it is usually the fun stuff- the reasons why I love school at home- that falls through the cracks which I am finding are more like broad trenches in my house. "Stuff" like flipping through art books and finding out the stories behind the paintings or drawings, cooking together, reading about and then listening to hymns or classical music, memorizing, drawing in our nature journals, learning about manners and different social situations, gardening, writing creatively, journaling, lingering on poetry.... and the list goes on and on and on. This frustration leaks into my schooling and thus, my home.


"Failing miserably" might be a little dramatic, but there are school conversations with Jeff on the couch at night that call for drama. My latest realization which causes me to teeter on the "failure" side is that I haven't had Julia write near enough this year. My biggest enemy? Time. How do I fit in the three "R's" plus all the "stuff". Writing creatively and journaling rests comfortably somewhere down in that same ditch with so many other good things. I counted her journal entries the other night- a whopping EIGHT for the entire school year! So of course, I was sure to assign "writing in journal" as one of her bedtime activities for that night.


Why I am writing in the first place----After a particularly challenging school week a month or so ago, I wrote "home" at the top of the page on which Julia was to journal that evening. I just had to pick her thoughts regarding this house in which some hours she skips around so freely but others, she grinds out math problems that I want to check with a calculator and feels me pressing her to engage her brain and to stay focused. Sometimes I had to wonder did she really even like home! What she wrote that night, as short and plain as it was, gave me comfort. (She has grammatical and punctuational license in journal writing, right?)

I was grateful for what I read. Simple. Beginnings and endings. Hers. Cozy. I love her descriptions knowing that, by God's grace, she and I see things differently. When she sees "simple", I may see chaos. When she feels "cozy", I may be wishing for a day to myself. I love that she knows it's her home- not just mine and Jeff's, but hers. And her mentioning beginnings and endings---critical. This was my favorite. It could mean a few things to her, but, for me and possibly for her, it is that He is the Beginning and He is the Ending-- conversations happen, school happens, spats erupt, well made plans dissipate, prayers fly, laughter spills and tears fall. It is life and He's all in it-- from beginning to end.


I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End. Revelation 22:13

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Refreshed































I’ve never participated in Lent. I grew up Southern Baptist. I had barely heard of it when I left home for college and you can imagine what this small town girl thought it was the first time I heard of it. (something very pesky) Easter 2010 was no exception. I wouldn’t be “doing” Lent. I had missed Ash Wednesday anyway. In our home, we do prepare for Easter soon after that significant Wednesday by placing reminders of spring and new life about the house. My favorite hint of the new season are the red bud branches that Julia and I prune from a large tree in some woods near our home. I cram as many perfectly colored budded branches as I can in the back of our car and then into our house.

This was our first year to do an Easter tree (red bud branches) which told the story of God from Creation through the Resurrection. Some people use ornaments or symbols and some use pictures as we did. It fulfilled its goal of creating some anticipation toward the Glorious Morning to come, but He did so much more than that.
About a week after beginning our Easter tree, Julia began her own "Lent". She didn’t know it and I didn’t realize it. The Holy Spirit began to remind her of sins that were unconfessed. So as any tender, uninhibited eight year old, she began confessing. Truly. Real sins. Real regrets. Real tears. She did this morning till night for several days. In the morning, she’d wake up confessing having remembered something during the night. At night, she’d come downstairs after having been tucked in, convicted in the silence of her quiet bedroom to confess to us her sin. Some things were two years ago-- some 2 hours.











































As her parents, you can imagine some of our thoughts..... does she just need some extra attention? (granted, a costly way to get it) Has someone harmed her in any way? Have we not emphasized grace enough in our home? And finally, God, what are you doing in her heart? In all honesty, it could be quite irritating and frankly, a few things she told me made me angry. I “stayed” there for a few days until the Lord spoke plainly to my heart through His Word.
Blessed is he whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered.
Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord does not count against him and in whose spirit is no deceit.
When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long.
For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer. Selah
Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said,“I will confess my transgressions to the Lord”—and you forgave the guilt of my sin. Selah
Psalm 32:1-5
He wanted me to sit up and take note. Evidence was that His hand was "heavy upon" Julia and she was not about to “cover up [her] iniquity”. She was “blessed” and I needed to affirm her in that. The difficult part was trying to explain to an eight year old that all of her sins, past, present and future, were forgiven when she asked Jesus to be her Lord and Savior three years ago, but His Word says to confess our sins for our own healing and maybe for others and that forgiveness is hers, not ever to be taken away, but confession is good in every sense of the word.
I read somewhere that Lent is a “season of soul-searching and repentance. It is a season for reflection and taking stock” and that is what she was allowing the Holy Spirit to do within her. She didn't start it. He did. A genuine Lent. Her catharsis of confessions were, for me, humbling and for her, refreshing.
I am looking forward to Easter 2011.
Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. James 5:16a

Here a few of my favorite pictures from Easter.

This one is my very favorite. When I awakened Easter morning, all was quiet inside the house and this was why. (There are 2 little bodies in the left chair.)

Friday, April 2, 2010

The Darkening


"This was the darkest day in history. The Son of God Himself was killed by people who weren't satisfied simply to reject Him; they couldn't stand to have Him exist."
Noel Piper

"In Him the enslaved find redemption, the guilty pardon, the unholy renovation; In Him are everlasting strength for the weak, unsearchable riches for the needy, treasures of wisdom and knowledge for the ignorant, fulness for the empty.
At Thy gracious call I hear, take, come, apply, receive His grace, not only submit to His mercy but acquiesce in it, not only glory in the cross but in Him crucified and slain, not only joy in forgiveness but in the One through whom redemption comes."
Valley of Vision

From the Tenebrae (the darkening) service tonight:

This is the evening before the morning.....
The shadow in the sunlight...
The darkening before the dawn....



Our Easter Garden idea from here.