When your daily activities are in concert with your highest priorities, you have a credible claim to inner peace. – Hyrum Smith


8/31/12

Carefree



Tonight as we were driving home from a birthday party, we passed a familiar property.  Aaron stopped the car in the middle of the road and began to back up.

"What are you doing?" I asked, alarmed.  I scanned the road behind us and saw that it was clear.  Breathing a sigh of relief, I turned my attention back to Aaron. 

"Look," he said, angling his head toward the window.

"No!" I gasped.  A heap of rubbish littered the lawn of where a beautiful old mansion stood just days before.  "That was supposed to be our house!  Our grandchildren were going to visit us there!"

Aaron shook his head and laughed.  We could never afford such a place, and clearly, it would have required so much work to renovate, someone thought it better to simply have it demolished.  Owning it was just a pipe dream, but it made me sad nonetheless.

"What?  What's going on?" Parker asked anxiously from the backseat.

"Oh nothing, honey.  They just tore down that old house."

"But why?" he asked, bottom lip quivering.

Aaron shot me a look.  The why-did-you-have-to-be-so-dramatic, great-now-he's really-upset look.

"Parker, mommy was just joking.  We weren't really going to live there.  It was unsafe, so they had to tear it down."

He sat back relieved.  I did, too.  Whew! 

Parker is such a sensitive little guy sometimes.  He worries about a lot of things.  Is his hair sticking up or down, what if he doesn't choose the absolute best toy at the Dollar Tree, what if he accidentally walked in on someone using the bathroom, etc. He gets upset if he sees cartoon characters get bullied.

While I appreciate his sensitivity, especially when it comes to the treatment of other children, at times, I find myself worrying about him.  Is his skin thick enough?  Will he be bullied?  Will he have trouble with anxiety?

In answer to my concerns, God gave me the perfect Bible verse tonight.  While I recognized the reference, the verse seemed brand new to me this evening.  I was reading in the Message version (not the NIV which I usually read), and the words just leapt off the page. 

First let me share the NIV verse: 1 Peter 5:7  Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

Now here is the Message version:

Live carefree before God; he is most careful with you.

What joy is summed up in that little verse!  First, I can live carefree before God.  Carefree.  The word conjures up images of Maddie jumping and twirling around in the sunshine, of Parker stooping to watch a line of ants march across the driveway. 


I live before God.  He is watching me, interacting with me.  He is very interested in my little life.

God is most careful with me.  I picture this gigantic, powerful, creator God cradling me in the palm of His enormous hand, lifting me to His eye-level, and smiling.  With hands that were strong enough to mould the mountain, he ever so gently knitted me together in my mother's womb. 

"Most careful" describes the way a parent cradles a soft, helpless, precious baby.  I remember dressing Jack for the very first time in the hospital.  Knowing just how sensitive his skin must feel and how frail his little arms and legs were, I was most careful as I gently guided his arms and legs into his clothing.  How comforting to think of my big God handling me in the same manner!

The best part is knowing that God's love and care extends to everyone.  He's got us all covered.  I don't need to worry about Parker.  God will be most careful with Parker, too.  He will invite Parker to live a carefree life, in His presence.  I can't wait for the morning when I can share this powerful little verse with my sweet little boy!

8/24/12

Craziness

Long after we'd tucked the kids in bed, I heard little feet padding across my floor.  I looked up from my book to find Maddie at the foot of my bed, grinning sheepishly. 

"Maddie..." I started in my warning tone.

"I just wanted to say goodnight!"  Followed quickly by, "What are you reading?  Can I come up?  I promise I won't talk while you read your Bible.  I'll wait patiently!"

She was just so darned cute, of course I couldn't say no.  There was plenty of room on the bed, as Aaron had fallen asleep on the couch, watching T.V.

"Oh, okay," I sighed, secretly grinning.

Though there was ample room for her to enter another way, she awkwardly climbed over me to get into bed, a tangled mess of arms and legs.  We were both giggling by the time she settled under the covers.

She lay beside me and propped herself up on one arm.  "Are you reading your Bible?"

"No, it's a book about Bible stories, but it's not the Bible.  Hush now so I can read."

Out of the corner of my eye I could see her staring intently at my face. 
After a few minutes, she asked, "When are you gonna start readin'?"

"I am reading."

"No!"  Pointing to her lips, "Wif your mouf."

"Oh, you mean out loud?"

"No," she replied thoughtfully.  "You can read quietwee."

"Oh Maddie," I laughed, "I am reading.  I am reading with my eyes."

She gave me a quizzical look.

I pointed to the words and then to my eyes.  "I read the words with my eyes and then they go into my head," I explained.

She paused, cocked her head to the side and cracked up.  Finally shaking her head and still laughing, she informed me, "Mommy, that's just craziness!"

Who knew reading could be so entertaining?

8/22/12

Guilthood (a.k.a. Motherhood)

A friend recently posted on my Facebook wall:  it was nice chatting... sorry I had to go so soon. it's all my fault, i keep the kids up too late and then they behave badly.

I replied:  of course it's all your fault. everything is your fault. you are a mom. i think instead of motherhood, it should be called guilthood. i tend to feel guilty about something all the time. ;) miss you. good to catch up for a few minutes!

I was joking, but only half.  I do feel guilty quite often.  Guilty that my kitchen floor is sticky.  Guilty that Jack's diaper has to sag before I will get around to changing it.  Guilty that Maddie spends untold hours alone in her room creating elaborate scenarios involving Polly Pockets and plastic horses.  Guilty that I didn't read that book Parker requested because it was past bedtime and I was wiped out. 

I feel guilty that I checked my Facebook home page 3 (okay 7) times in a single day.  I feel guilty that I finished a magazine article in the bathroom (which took much longer than the bathroom trip required).  I feel guilty when I don't have dinner ready when Aaron gets home. 

I'm not practicing handwriting with the kids as I'd planned this summer.  I'm not consistently crafting with them.  I'm not even consistently bathing them!  I know, I know, some of you are gasping.  I'm just trying to keep it real here.  (They don't go more than a few days without a bath, sheesh!)

I struggle with guilt.  I think, as parents, most of us do.  I just hope we can quit.  Maybe together even...Hi, my name is Jessie and I'm...

But seriously, guilt is not very productive.  It only serves to make us feel badly. 

I even struggled with guilt B.C. [before children].  Perhaps it was that "good ole Catholic guilt" my mom likes to joke about, perhaps it's just my personality.  I don't know.  Anyway, I was talking with my dear friend, Danielle, about it one day. 

I'll never forget.  She looked me square in the eye and said, "Jess, guilt is not from God."

Say what?  Now wait a second.  Wasn't that how He got us to turn around and shape up? 

Nope.  He uses conviction for that purpose.  Conviction is that nagging feeling you get when you suspect you are doing something wrong.  It is the Holy Spirit alerting you that your behavior is at odds with God's will.  Repent, listen, and obey, and that's that.  Conviction leads to change; guilt leads to anxiety and despair.  

God doesn't want us to feel guilty. 


Wow!  How had I forgotten that revelation?  Did I somehow think it didn't apply to moms?  Sometimes I think we need to hear it more than anyone.  When we are scared we are ruining a generation because we made mac-n-cheese for three days in a row or because our child watched that extra cartoon, we need our Father to help us see the bigger picture.

When we stop, pray, and listen, God can gently reveal the areas where we need improvement.  He can also offer us peace and rest, allowing us to let the small stuff go.  It's my prayer tonight I can turn off my inner critic and hear my loving Father instead.

Philippians 4:6-7 Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Matthew 11:28-30  Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. "Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart; and you shall find rest for your souls. "For My yoke is easy, and My load is light.


8/1/12

Music to my ears

I hear hard balls rolling down the upstairs hall, crashing into who-knows-what, and two, giggling conspirators.  And I love it!

When we first moved into this house, I had my doubts.  No sidewalks and the nearest neighbor was 1/2 acre away.  We didn't see any kids for weeks.  Those we did spot were older and across a very busy road. 

I was sad.  We had come from the most amazing neighborhood in Seattle.  Tons of kids, double cul de sac, park within view of our front porch.  Our kids were always outside with the neighbor kids in the summer or inside a neighbor's house in the winter.  It was great!

When we moved here, I worried about their socialization.  Silly me!  Parker made tons of friends at preschool.  Maddie, still pretty young, preferred to play on her own. 

The best part about living here is that the kids have to play together.  When Jack was a newborn and I was buried in a sea of diapers, sleep-deprived, and constantly grumpy, Parker and Maddie bonded like war veterans. 

Today, after cleaning up the lunch mess, I called up the stairs, "Can Jack and I come up and play with you?"

"We're having pretty much fun up here by ourselves!" 

I smiled to myself.  Glad for once of our isolated little house on our busy, busy street.  Thank you, God, for unexpected blessings (and loving siblings).