Childlike Faith: Take a Leap
Several weeks ago, my family took a weekend and drove down to Atlanta to take in a Braves game and see some friends and family. One evening, we took the kids down to play in the hotel pool. If your kids are anything like mine, they love to be in the water.
This pool was like most. It was three feet at one end and went down to about five or six at the other. My children stand just over and just under three feet tall. In other words, the water would be over their heads. And they don't know how to swim yet. I got in and took them out, one at a time, so they could feel the water from the safety of my arms. Then, I coaxed my daughter up onto the side of the pool and told her to jump into my arms. After only a moment of hesitation, she did. And, of course, I caught her. Soon, after, my son wanted to join in on this new fun game. The problem was, he didn't want to wait until I was back in position before he jumped. He just trusted me to be there no matter when he took the leap. My husband kept him safe, so we didn't have any moments of panic, but it definitely got me thinking.
My almost two-year-old trusted me implicitly to keep him safe. He had no problems with jumping off the side because he knew I was going to catch him. Do we act the same with our Heavenly Father? I don't mean in the swimming pool, but with our lives. As we make decisions and talk to people, do we trust God to be there to help us, to keep us safe? When do we stop? I know I need to work on it some more. How about you? Got any tips for finding that childlike faith again and being able to trust God implicitly? What keeps you from staying up at night worrying?
Ever heard the song "Brighten the Corner Where You Are"? It's an old one and I don't think I've sung it but once. Mostly, I remember the little girl in "Meet me in St. Louis" singing the refrain over and over. That's one of my favorite movies. Anyway, I love the sentiments of the song. Go look up the lyrics and see if you agree.
Another song I love, one that I used to sing growing up, is "A Sunbeam." It's super simple. "A sunbeam, a sunbeam. Jesus wants me for a sunbeam. A sunbeam, a sunbeam. I'll be a sunbeam for Him."
What's got me thinking about all these sunshiny songs lately? Hugs. Does that make sense to you? Hopefully, by the end of this post, it will.
We have the best neighbors. Seriously. In the last six months, they've sort of become another set of grandparents for our children, are always good for a chat over the fence, share garden goodies and sewing stories and funny anecdotes. It's always a pleasure to be outside the same time they are.
They had gone away for a few days and we were catching up some last week. As I was getting ready to take the kids back to our yard, I just reached over and hugged her. It was automatic, though it dawned on me later that I had never done before. But you guys, I am such a hugger.
Growing up a preacher's daughter, I didn't really fit in with the other kids in the congregation most of the time. However, I could always find some older ladies who loved to chat a few moments before or after services, and very much enjoyed getting a hug. At some places, I even added some older gentlemen, too. My senior year of high school, one referred to me as "sunshine."
Since then, I have tried to make it more of an intentional thing. If all it takes to brighten someone's day is a short chat and a hug, what's stopping us? I even get my kids involved. Don't you know that everyone loves that?
So, can you sing "I'll be a sunbeam for Him?" How are you brightening your corner? I'd love to hear!
Words, Words, Words
As I was editing a manuscript this week, something caught my eye. I use the words "just" and "really" a lot! I started to try and eliminate some of the repetitiveness of my words, and thinking about that led my thoughts to other word-related issues. For instance, have you ever tried to comfort a friend and said something that just made things worse? For someone who uses words for a living, sometimes, I'm no good at it.
Of course, with children, we are trying to train them to say things like "please" and "thank you" and "yes, sir" and "no, ma'am," and others of that type. And we are trying to keep them from using words that are mean or disrespectful or offensive. I'm sure a lot of you are doing the same thing with your children. Anyone else have the problem of just giggling whenever their children speak because of the thick accents they've already developed at such a young age? Ha! One word we're having problems with lately is "gosh." Trust me. In America, it seems like almost everyone uses that word anymore. It's definitely all over children's television programs.
Have you ever thought about it? It's basically a replacement for "god" when people want to use that popular phrase "OMG," but don't want to actually take the Lord's name in vain. To me, that's just as bad. And we don't use it in our house. Unfortunately, our children can still hear it in other places and on television. When we caught our daughter testing it out, we had to say, "No." But have you ever had to explain to a preschooler exactly why a word is wrong?
Doesn't it make you think more about every word we say? Which ones do we really need to use and which ones are extra? Which say what we really mean and which are too weak to really get our thoughts across without hurting someone? Which ones are just repetitions without meaning and which ones are "must haves?" I dare you this week to rethink your language. Are you always saying what you need to say?
Back to the Romance
We attended a wedding last weekend. Moments like those, shared with sweet friends, always take me back to my own wedding for at least a moment or two. Of course, now that we have children, they also take me forward to thoughts of how I might feel years down the road when we're on the other side, sending our offspring off into this crazy thing called marriage. Emotions run high, for sure.
At the reception, as we sat chatting with some other friends, one asked if I had a favorite memory from the day we got married. Without hesitation, I answered, "My favorite part was that we were finally married and could just stay together." That last year before we married was hard. I was still in college in Henderson, TN. My then-fiance` was in Memphis, starting grad school and working nights. We saw each other about once a month and subsisted on phone calls and emails between then. We dated/were together as a couple for three years and four months before we married. And I was so glad that I could kiss him goodnight and not have to go somewhere else.
Don't get me wrong. There were lots of other memories from that day. Like this one in the picture below:
That was taken in the nursery before the ceremony. I was so giddy with excitement that I was literally spinning in circles.
I think sometimes it's good to go back and remember moments like this, especially when things get rough or mundane. It's nice to bring to mind all the little highs in your relationship and how it all felt back when it was new. Even though we're much more comfortable with each other now, fourteen years later, those moments of romance are nice to sneak in once in a while, too.
So, I'm curious. When you remember your wedding day, what's a favorite memory or part of yours? Does thinking about it make you feel a bit more romantic towards your spouse?
In some feedback from a judge in one of the contests my book was entered in, it was said, "and her characters go to church A LOT." Well, yeah. I do that in real life, too. I was raised that every time the doors were opened, for Bible study, worship, or some other event, we were there. Now that we're raising our own family, we're continuing on in that tradition. Honestly, I can't imagine my life without it. Having that extra support and time to study and worship helps me through every week. My children love Bible class, and adore getting to see their friends, or talk to the preacher. Our goal as parents is to raise Christians, first and foremost. What they want to do in regards to jobs or school, we're not as worried about.
That being said, I can't remember the last time I actually got to listen to a whole sermon. Maybe one time last fall when both kids came down sick and my husband and I took turns going to morning or evening services while the other stayed home? It doesn't happen often. Usually, I am trying to get someone to sit still, or stop talking (or singing the ABC's), or making flirty faces at the ladies two rows back, or picking up the crayons that got scattered all over the floor ... again. You get the idea. It can get very frustrating. If you're feeling that way, keep reading (or check out this other really great blog I've read several times now that has helped me on rough days).
Today, as soon as the men started passing the plates of communion bread, my son (not quite two), reached down in his bag and pulled out the coin purse with his coin for contribution. "Coin." He plopped the purse in my husband's lap and said, "Open it." He gets so excited about that small part of worship he can participate in each week, and that is encouraging. We always sing a verse or two between the communion part and the contribution. When we sing, "This is the Day," my three-year-old joins in now, because she knows the words. Last week, when we had a singing night, she joined in on several songs. At home, my son will find one of our song books, pick it up, say, "Bible book," open it and start singing "Holy, holy." These precious moments aren't much when you compare them to the frustration they give us during worship services, but they prove that they are learning, and that we're doing the right thing by continuing to keep them next to us on the pew so that they can continue picking up little pieces. One day, they'll sit still(ish), and they'll be able to listen and participate in all the parts of worship. Until then, we'll just keep celebrating the ones they've learned thus far.
What about you? Got any funny wiggle stories to share? Any learning moments to celebrate with us?
One time, shortly after I was baptized, I remember sitting in bed late at night, sobbing for my friends who weren't saved.
I don't think anything in particular had brought the tear-fest on. But it had hit me that unless they were willing to change some things in their lives, I wouldn't get to see them in Heaven.
And that broke my heart.
Fast forward to now. Probably more than 20 years since that night when I lifted my friends up to God and asked Him to touch their hearts. Somewhere along the way, I lost a lot of that passion. I'm not really sure why. Is it because the world tells us that if we tell them their bad choices are going to keep them out of Heaven we're being judgmental and hateful? After all, as they like to quote from the Bible, "Judge not that ye be not judged." Of course, they don't remember that it also says in John 7:24, "Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment.”
I'm not sure about you, but if I were doing something and you knew it would keep me from getting to Heaven, I sure would hope that you would come to me and help me find my way back.
So, why am I here, fighting with myself over how to reach out to some people in my life who are making choices that are likely to keep them out of Heaven? Why can't I reach out in love and say, "I love you, but I hate what you're doing"?
Have you ever dealt with such a situation? How did you handle it? Any suggestions for me? Advice?
Sharing His First Fireworks
As you all know, earlier this week was the fourth of July. We decided to join some friends at the local fireworks show on Tuesday evening since that was going to be easier than trying to get to one after Bible study on Wednesday (the actual holiday). We showed up early to find a "good" spot, played and talked and hung out until dark. Glow sticks kept my children from going completely crazy, and they quickly decided that our friend Sarah was a great person to snuggle up with.
Sarah is amazing. She's still in the middle of a struggle that I have already overcome, but maybe with a little less hope than we had. She and her husband haven't been able to have children. So, when I noticed that my son, who had never really experienced fireworks before, had chosen her to sit beside for the show, I tamped down my jealousy.
Why was I jealous? I had been looking forward to this ever since I talked my husband into it. Seeing things for the first time through your children's eyes ... there's nothing better. I wanted to sit and see the wonder and excitement and mystery. Was he going to be scared? Would he love it? I didn't know, but I wanted to find out.
Instead, I reminded myself that I could still see most of his reactions from my spot slightly behind him. And I let Sarah enjoy this first moment. He would point to the colorful blossoms of light in the sky, say something about their color or brightness or loudness, then put his hand on her leg and lean in to her. It was precious.
I will get to be with him for almost every one of his firsts. Remembering back on how it felt to go through the struggle of infertility, of wondering if/when we would ever have children, it wasn't as big of a struggle for me as it could have been to let someone else enjoy that moment. But it was definitely worth it.
I'm not saying any of this to make myself look good. Trust me, I still have a long way to go before I can be anywhere close to perfect. But maybe by telling this story, I can help you help others in similar situations.
I know I've talked a lot about infertility. It's sort of ironic, because when we were struggling through it, we didn't talk about it as much. Maybe I'm stronger. Maybe it's just easier to talk about something hard after it's over. I don't know. But I still have days when I can feel the angst and the sadness and the frustration. So, for all my friends out there still in the middle of it, I'm here for you. And I say a prayer for all those who want so desperately to be mamas and daddies all the time. Hang in there.
Rainbow at the End
Evidently, I'm raising another generation of storytellers.
My three-and-a-half year old came up the other day and said, "Mommy, I'm going to tell you a scary story, but you don't have to be scared because there's a rainbow at the end."
I couldn't actually find the picture she had drawn to go with that story, but here's another one she drew about a storm and a beach, and I think the long skinny blue thing was a person, maybe? Her explanations of her drawings lately have become quite elaborate.
Another time, she came up and said, "Mommy, I'm going to tell you a scary story, but you don't have to be scared. It's about a pretend world, and not the real world." She followed that statement up with, "And Daddy can keep you safe."
I guess maybe she's not going to write romance like her Mama? Regardless, I'm loving seeing her imagination blossom and expand and go wild.
Do your kids tell stories? I'd love to hear one!
This is a place for me to share thoughts and ideas not just related to writing. Thoughts about what's going on in my life, about an idea I got that I thought shareworthy, or just a funny anecdote.