Monthly Archives: April 2011

All-Things-Boy

Baby Henry has made me appreciate having a baby boy ALL over again. I couldn’t resist digging into photos tonight and finding some of my favorite reasons to have a BOY!

 

All boys must--at some point--be dressed supporting their dad's favorite team.Boys must support their dad’s favorite sports team. Even when they wear size 0-3 months.

 

Spending so much time with Mom makes a boy very curious about what she puts on her face...All boys eventually develop a curiosity for the stuff mom puts on her face…

with a flower bow this time...(sorry dads)And they wear it proudly.

They’ll get a rubber ducky for bath, but it better be a pirate.

maybe even with a plastic knifeGotta shave like dad at some point. Maybe when he’s older he can try with a plastic knife.

Oh, and gotta wear everything dad wears. Including the belt that gets wrapped around 3 times.

But boys sometimes want long hair like mom’s. They sort of want to be like her too, especially when dad’s not around.

Boys–for at least the next decade–must go through a serious Buzz Lightyear phase.

And boys must be rough with their dads.

And boys will be tossed, swung, thrown, and spun, as often as humanly possible.

And t-ball practice must begin in diapers.

 

And hopefully despite the skidded knees, the firey energy, the marching, the stomping, the roaring, the tackling…

there will always a sweet, hidden moment,

where a boy

kisses his mama.

 

Chocolate milkshakes

I just had a conversation that was so tender and memorable, I don’t want to overexpose it.  But I want to remember it. Forever.

My dear friend, Molly, welcomed her son, Henry, into the world around 48 hours ago, and I’ve been waiting to have my visiting moment–my moment of intimacy with my amazing friends and their precious new baby boy. I’ve been surprisingly emotional about Molly’s pregnancy and even more so the past two days since the news was finally announced: It’s a boy!!  I’ve been watching her growing belly…along with much of the world…waiting to find out if I should buy onesies with pink elephants or blue dinos.  Much of Jackson’s social circle consists of little people carrying purses and wearing pig tails.  And even though he and Henry have a little age difference, I’m so excited to go to more pirate birthday parties and witness more foam sword fights because Jack’s new friend is finally here.

My conversation tonight with Jason and Molly will hopefully be tucked away in my heart forever. (Mol, you’ll have to help me remember details). :)   And most of what we talked about was sacred, personal, and yet hysterical and just…normal.  Beautifully normal.

Before heading to the hospital, I remembered a story that my parents always told me about when I was born.  In Texas, the best fast food burgers came from a place called What-A-Burger.  Growing up, even into middle school, I loved hearing the detail about my birth story where my mom immediately asked for a What-a-burger with fries after she delivered me.  I always found it funny, and it was something I highlighted every time my birth story was discussed.  At the time, my mom probably never realized that greasy detail would ever be remembered, much less important. But I visualized it over and over again, picturing my mom in the hospital gown, sitting up on the bent bed with stiff sheets, eating her victory burger after bringing me into the world.

So, I called Molly as I was driving the four blocks it takes to get to the hospital. “Mol, do you want me to pick you up anything?” She replies, graciously, “Um, No. I’m fine.” I come back with, “Really, do you want fries? Ice cream? Whatever you want, I’ll bring!!” … “Actually, a chocolate shake sounds good.”

So, I entered Boven Birth Center carrying two gift bags and and a carrier with three Burger King chocolate shakes.  Walking through the hallways, I felt like I could have snapped my fingers and I would’ve been back there myself, in 2008, getting wheeled in after my water broke with Jackson. It felt tangibly familiar.  But I was so thrilled, and deeply content, with the reality that I was finally getting to meet Molly’s baby. A baby I’d prayed for. A baby I’d dreamed about over lunches and coffee with his mom.  Molly couldn’t have chosen a better detail than a chocolate shake, and I’m so thankful that I can tuck that conversation away, remembering the thick sips, the dew on the huge paper cups, and the perfect mommy sipping her victory shake after a job-well-done.

Molly and Jason, you two absolutely amaze me. I’m so proud of you as parents, and I’m so proud to call you my friends. And Henry, I adore every little bit of you.  So glad you are finally here.

The day that True Love died

The weather can direct our mood almost more than any other factor, especially when we live in a place of such temperature extremes as West Michigan.  Josh told me tonight that he realized our car had a rain sensor on the windshield which can match the rhythm of the wipers to the amount of rain falling.  I’m not only amazed by this invention, I also question the necessity of it.  Is it that difficult to reach your hand a few inches to adjust windshield wipers? As I was watching the beads collect on the glass, listening to the shhhhhhh of the light rain and watching the tick-tock of wipers, I felt grateful for the rain, the gray sky, and even the uncomfortable chill.  Good Friday should be remembered with somber, rainy day feelings.  It really does help me focus on the darkness of this day and of the huge implications Good Friday has for my life.

Last night, our small group reenacted The Last Supper together, washing feet and taking communion.  I was struck by the portion of our service together that highlighted the requirement of full self-examination.  I’d never really realized that Judas participated in The Last Supper right alongside the other disciples, taking the same bread and drinking the same wine.  Jesus invited the disciples to take a full inventory of themselves, examining the deepest truths of their beings, bringing it all before Him.  Judas was there, participating in the motions, possibly even wanting to fully engage.  But the sins of betrayal, selfishness, denial, and pride had such a tight grip on him…and sometimes I feel like, of all the disciples, I am most like Judas…

Lately, I’ve been reading books on human experiences in Heaven. The book, “Heaven is for Real” gave me such a glimpse of what is to come, and it helped me with the doubts I struggle with regarding the authority of Scripture.  (Read this book. Please.)  And because I was so moved and shaken by the book, I asked friends to recommend other books on human accounts of heaven. I began reading “Flight to Heaven,” Capt. Dale Black’s survival story of a horrible plane crash.  This book also provides so much validation for me, and I completely trust his experience.  It’s absolutely astounding to me to read about the indescribable heavenly colors, the bright light, the peace of brotherhood, the joys of reconciliation, the presence of Jesus, and the complete dominion of God.  I encourage anyone to read these amazing accounts because they can inspire, encourage, and uplift, especially when we’re weary and tired from the struggling lives we find ourselves in.  But, I’m disappointed in myself for getting more goosebumps from these stories than from the book of Revelation.  I put way too much stock in human experience when I should need to look no further than the Bible itself.

Last night, before taking communion, I didn’t have enough time for a full self-examination.  I took the bread too quickly, without spending the time, possibly hours, I needed to mediate on the cross, to dig deeply into my sin and face the ugly truths that misguide me every day.  My selfishness, my vanity, my lack of faith, my lack of spiritual discipline…all of these things overwhelmed me. And, ironically, this overwhelming feeling was chopped up and interrupted by thoughts that came from these very sins.  Meanwhile, I’m also thanking God for the spiritual maturity that has taken place in my own life, my home, my marriage.  But part of this maturity, it seems, is realizing just how wretched I really am compared to the purity and righteousness of Jesus.  As I move closer toward blossoming into a mature Christian woman, I discover I am still merely a bud.

This morning, I opened my home room class with this video for devotions.

Phil Wickham is young, fresh, powerful and relevant; I chose this video so it would impact my students deeply, impressing upon them the importance of repentance and full surrender to Jesus not just as Savior, but as Lord.  But I couldn’t help but feel somewhat foolish, standing in front of them as an example.  If I’m examining myself as required by Christ at The Last Supper, I can’t pretend to be an excellent example of a Christian.  Jesus is my Savior, but I’m still trying to figure out what it means for Him to be my Lord.  I recently discovered that there is a huge difference, and they are inseparable and fully dependent on the other. I’m still breaking down age-old walls that keep my trust for and reliance on God from being beautifully free.

Today, I realize that these aspects of me, these dark tendencies of mine to worship and honor the Self, are the nails that put Christ on the cross. Literally. My sin was at Golgotha, pounded into the innocent flesh of the One that came to reconcile me to God.  And although I know that Sunday is coming, and the stone will roll away to reveal an empty tomb, today I’m grateful for the clouds and the rain.   I want to dwell in the thickness of shame in order to make my self-examination as honest as possible so that I can be less like Judas and more like the man he kissed.

May you be reflective today, honest with yourself, knowing that no matter what dirt you find, just like the shhhhhhhhh of a Spring rain, Jesus cleanses you and makes you new.

 

24 Hours

This week is my first real taste of being a full-time working mother, from son up to son down, without a break, dividing my day into three shifts of packed responsibility.  Josh was gone by 6:30 this morning and wasn’t home until 7:30 p.m., so I also got a very small taste of being a single mom as well.  I dropped Jack off at a new daycare this morning, hustled to Holland Christian, breezed through my classes, raced back to pick him up, and started shift #2 from 3-8 pm.  Although I have a tendency to feel sorry for myself when I’m so tired, I’m realizing more and more how amazed I am by the mothers I know that are fully entrenched in the work force.  On my best days this week, I felt like I could run the universe strictly based on the fact that I can keep so many hats on, piled on top of each other. On my worst day (which, coincidentally, happens to be today), I feel like I’m giving merely 10% to each role I try to fulfill, struggling to keep up.  There are 2 stacks of ungraded papers on my counter and specks of spaghetti sauce I missed on my wall. (Thank you, Jackson). It’s definitely a huge dose of reality for me; but even in the chaos of new routine, I’m thrilled to be exactly where I am, doing exactly what I love.

While I was circling the classroom today, helping clarify the difference between the terms “summarize” and “paraphrase”, I had a thought that was probably more juvenile than the thoughts that were filling the 7th grade classroom around me.  I thought, “God should have made the day more than 24 hours. Then I could teach English AND have plenty of time with my kids at home.”  I have often entertained thoughts similar to this one, but this particular confession demonstrates a pretty embarrassing truth: I sometimes think I am better than God.  I actually thought I had a better idea for the duration of the day than God’s perfect design.  And I wished for it. And not only that, I based this thought on my own feeble, fleeting existence and temporary circumstances. Not to mention, if God had given us 48 hours to a single day, I would manage to fill up my time, rearrange my priorities, and still ask for more daylight.

Thankfully, I’m able to spend these next several weeks at a school that is so unique, I can’t say enough about it.  Before I had Jackson, I got into a “public v. private school” debate that I remember accurately.  I heatedly defended the need for families to invest ALL of their resources, including their children, into the public school system, especially the struggling schools.  My argument firmly supported the public school system, and I figured my family life would and should follow my priority and identity as a teacher.  For years, I never thought I would waver on this issue, and I’m still stunned that I am.

However, I had absolutely no clue then what it was like to be a mother.  I had no idea what personal responsibility really was.  I had no idea that after becoming a parent, my role as a mother would trump any other hat I was wearing.  And I didn’t know…couldn’t know…how desperate a Christ-following parent is to beget a Christ-following child. God has me at Holland Christian for a reason.  I’m still not used to the fact that I can openly discuss Christ in my classroom, and that I’m expected to lead students daily in prayer and devotions.  It truly is an honor to be there each day.

I don’t know when I’m going to go back to teaching, but, man, I miss it.  It feels great to be in front of a classroom, surrounded by students who are honest and bold about their faith, and sincere and open about their questions.  I love the freshness, the paper and pens, the words and letters and paragraphs, the meaning and subtext of writing.  I love hearing the bell ring and the lingering student asking for help. I love being there for these kids.  I can’t help but picture Jackson as a student there someday, attending chapel with his buddies, being openly encouraged by his coaches to grow closer to God, learning about the Bible academically yet authoritatively.  It’s an amazing place with truly amazing people.

As my teacher career deepens with more education (my grad program kicks off in July), and as my family expands in the next few years with (hopefully) more children, it will be interesting to see how my perspective changes on the school issue.  I’m certainly not claiming to be anywhere certain.  But, for a short time, I’m thankful for where I get to spend 7 of my 24 hours. And from son up to son down, I’ll trust that God is in total control and knows exactly what He’s doing.

Rekindled

“In everyone’s life, at some time, our inner fire goes out.  It is then burst into flame by an encounter with another human being.  We should all be thankful for those people who rekindle the inner spirit.”

Josh and I sometimes lie in bed at night and discuss how we need to be more intentional about our relationship.  Josh is my best friend (and, I think, he’d say the same thing about me) and we absolutely adore spending time with one another, but we have also been blessed with swarms of amazing people that we love spending time with.  People who are just like us.  People who are hardly like us. And people who are sort of like us, but there’s enough mutual adoration that it feels like a magnetic pull.  We are totally surrounded these days by people we love and adore, and it’s a huge priority for us to nurture these relationships. Thankfully, we’re at a stage of life where we’re able to carve out the time to spend with our friends and family without neglecting too much of our normal life. I’m sitting at my kitchen counter with a cup of coffee this morning marveling…feeling whirlwinded…by the gifts of friendship that God has given me.  It’s truly incredible how God uses our relationships with one another as little tools, sanding down the rust to keep us true, real, honest.

Do you ever feel like someone’s experience of you, for some reason, doesn’t represent your true self?  I have moments of insecurity where I say things and do things that are not representative of who I really am.  I sometimes say things I think people want to hear to make a moment easier.  I want to smooth things down, even at the cost of being honest and secure.  Sometimes I even feel divided between the woman who says these things and the woman who is right next to her, asking “WHAT are you doing?” These relationships, then, jump a track and struggle to get back on.  I hate that I bring that element to relationships sometimes, and this is something that I’m committed to working on.  But I’m also realizing that God has given me grace-filled friendships, people who can strengthen and redirect me.  People who I love and who love me, and I feel this mutual lifting-up almost literally.  What I mean is, I’m actually able to see that the relationships God has given me are making me better.

At our small group last night, we discussed the role of prayer in our lives and how underestimated most of us find it.  My friend, Chris, said something that choked me up so much, I’m surprised I didn’t flood the room with tears.  He said, “Won’t it be cool when Jack is a teenager, I’ll be able to say to him ‘I’ve been praying for you since you were a baby’.”  In that moment, something clicked for me.  I felt so honored and loved to be a part of our Cable group. I thought to myself, “now THIS is friendship.”  These are the types of relationships that God intended for us when he put people on this earth.  I felt like I had taken a huge drink, that God was watering me through the friends that he placed specifically in my life.  And this blessing extends beyond our small group; it’s woven into our entire social life.

I want to give a handful of shout-outs and I want to be really, really specific with details about the people I’m talking about.  I have lists of blessings and conversations in my head that I want to highlight, but I don’t want to create any sense of hierarchy and, knowing me, I’d forget something or someone so beautifully important, then feel insecure and embarrassed.  So even though it feels impersonal, I’m going to stay somewhat general.  You know who you are, dear friends.  Thank you for being in my life, for coming over for lunch, for sending me flowers, for making me laugh, for giving me hard advice, for double-dates, for play dates, for listening to my guidance, for praying for me, for loving my child, for encouraging me, for sending us cards, for babysitting, for all you do and who you are.  Josh and I are so, so blessed and thankful for you.

And for those of who are may not have these unique relationships, who may need a sense of rekindling, know that I’m praying for you so you can experience the depth and peace of God-centered friendship…