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Entries in some thoughts (52)


Seen and Unseen

I have learned something this week.  It is the same lesson from two different sources. 

I have learned that things are not what they seem. 

Maybe I should have written that things are not always what they seem, but I think that in this one case it may be accurate to say that things are not, ever, what they seem. 

There is always something that lies beneath.

On the surface what we see is beauty, or organization, or mature spirituality.  And I am not trying to say that these things are a fake, a cover-up, or a sham.  What I am trying to say is that it isn't the whole story.  There are things that lie below that translucent area which is clear and visible and sparkling.  While the unseen isn't apparent, it is important; it gives substance to what is seen, it gives weight to what is seen, and it sometimes forcefully determines what is seen in the end.  It may be shocking, and it may even be devastating.

There is a family here that has been left behind.  A mom and her girls are now missing something; they are incomplete, in an earthly sense.  And I don't think anyone saw it coming.  We can be very good at appearances.  And yet...what good is it to look good on the outside but be unraveling on the inside? 

As for being the one who is looking?  Look deeper.  Don't take what you see for granted.  Try to get the whole story.  This involves knowing people, which is much harder, time-consuming, maybe even inconvenient.  But really knowing others and letting them really know you could be part of your saving grace.



We can play our best defense...

We can give it our all...

We can be alert and ready for action...

We can keep our eyes on the ball...

We can sometimes succeed in that defense...

But then there are times we are just not able to keep the other team from scoring a goal.

Soccer?  It's just a game. But in life, the defeats can seem overwhelming. 

Christian had a hard time at his game today; he sat out one quarter and cried because his team rarely scores and has never won.  He is a good soccer player and most of the boys on the team try really hard.  The thing is, they go to a very small private school.  There is no playing field, and while they do get a recess each day they play on a small playground within the church's campus.  The kids that they play soccer against go to bigger schools and likely play soccer almost every day.  They know what they are doing.  They are aggressive, too.  So, Christian's team struggles to compete with these guys who are more savvy on the field. 

I felt like Christian seemed like the day was too much for me at one point.  I couldn't play defense.  I had a terrible experience with Eliana in a store; terrible, like, I had to leave she was screaming so loudly.  There were women who actually said, so that I could hear them,"Oh my gosh!"  I didn't know what made me more upset.  I have to say, we both carried on in the car-she screamed at me, and I responded in a way that was less than grown-up.  I finally realized that I just needed to be quiet.  When we got home she crashed in the bed with Mike and I escaped for a bit all by myself. 

The rest of the day was a little better.  I had to finish it out, right?  Just like Christian had to get back in the game.  He joined his team again, and while he was still upset he played hard till the end.  And although they lost, he chose not to dwell on that.  There was a cookie, after all!  It's good when you can taste the sweet after defeat. 

I confess that I go to the wrong place for the sweet.  I want to be more diligent about seeking sweetness in a better place.  Psalm 34:8 says,"Taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in him."  Isn't that beautiful?  Refuge is defined in this way:  shelter or protection from danger or distress;  a place that provides shelter or protection; something to which one has recourse in difficulty (Merriam-Webster online).  There is no better place to go than to the Lord.  It is something that I know and yet am still learning.



Goodness Gracious

During the time that I have kept this blog there have been several comments about me and motherhood.  Very kind people have written things along the lines of,"You are such a good mom!"

This makes me squirm. 

It is quite a compliment to me, but the truth is that being a mom is hard for this here woman.  (Seriously?  I have a hard time even calling myself a woman.  I'm still just 15!)  I have friends for whom motherhood seems to come so naturally; they are almost always smiling, warm, and nurturing; they speak to their kids in a tone that I rarely use.  While they are gently but firmly reminding their kids that "feet go on the ground, not in trees," I'm hollering across the park,"Get out of that tree before you fall and break your neck or your leg!  I don't want to spend the evening in the hospital!" and "Stay away from the dead fish!"  The one thing I do seem to be good at is passing along my neuroses; they must change when we come home from any public place, and a bottle of Purell is never far from reach.

I often think that whatever goodness is in or comes from my kids is in spite of me, not because of me.  Before anyone gets upset and thinks I'm being too hard on myself, don't!  I'm just saying that I'm not the mom who gets up before everyone, makes pancakes in the morning, helps my kids memorize Bible verses (although I really need to do this one), or shows them how to clean up after themselves (um, I don't even clean up after myself).  There are a lot of things not getting done around here. 

We have had some crazy years, some undisciplined years, some wingin'-it-like-it's-our-job years.  I will say that recently we have all been talking about the changes that we all know need to take place.  I will also say that there is a lot going unsaid since this is our life I'm talking about and it's the internet.  Sorry for being so vague.

I guess what I'm getting at is that I have my moments; I have moments when I really enjoy being a mom.  I love to watch my kids be who they are, have fun doing what they are doing, and get along together.  I also have my moments when it seems like too much and I want to quit; I feel overwhelmed and like I just can't take it or do it anymore. 

Maybe what I should say is thank you.  Thank you for taking the time to stop by, to see what our family is up to, to listen to me babble about our days.  Thank you for graciously encouraging me (and I know there are others that you encourage as well!) on this journey.  It means a lot.

I also want to say that I can't take credit for the good mommy moments.  I have to give all of the credit to God.  He is faithful when I am not, to me and to my family.  While I almost always feel like the prodigal daughter, He continually proves himself to be the prodigal God.  (Read that book!  It's a good one!)

Now...I'm going to lighten things up a bit.  The other day when we were at our friends' house, Elaine and Rex, Michaela found a wig and you know she just had to put it on...

We all cracked up.  Of course it was just too much for another small person in my life that Michaela got to do something that was so the hair was passed along...

Oh, the hysteria!

Oh, the giggling!

Oh, the madness!

You didn't think Christian wouldn't have a go, did you?

Now, people ask all the time if the kids look like me or like Mike; in general, I would say that they are a pretty good mix.  But, I think that these pictures can be used as solid evidence that the genetic influence from my side is heavy.  Let me show you what I mean...

Oh, who am I kidding?  They're way cuter!  And I couldn't take that crazy hair off.

Would a good mom post these pictures on the web?  I don't know about that...


A Spring in My Step

It seems with the arrival of March spring is truly on its way.  The winters here are mild compared to many places in our country or around the world, but it has been a rainy, dreary, and cold season this year and just like everyone we are so glad to see spring make an appearance.

We headed out after church on Sunday for a little bird-watching-flower-appreciating outdoor fun.  I just knew I was going to get pooped on (**it happens to me.  Often.) but not a single bird targeted me that day.  So even I had a good time walking the block and capturing the signs of spring, with the camera or just in my mind.

Mike had the camera at first.  He likes to call it my camera (as in Christina's), but the truth is he knows more about photography than I do...he actually studied some about it when he was younger.

By the way, does this surprise anyone?  I thought not.  He studies.  I pick up a new anything and expect it to come naturally, automatically.  We have recently coined the phrase spontaneous education.  Wouldn't that be nice?

Back to real life...

He came upon a little bird that took notice of his lens; he shook out his tail feathers (the bird, not Mike) and strutted around the yard like a little supermodel.  I think I actually heard him say,"I'm too sexy for my breast, too sexy for my breast, so sexy I'm the best," at least once.

This little red-chested bird was posing for the camera, make no mistake.

We went on our way after the photo shoot and took a few minutes to look closely at all of the things that have been changing around our neighborhood.

The trees have burst forth with gorgeous clusters of tiny white flowers that float down every now and then, covering the ground just as they cover the branches above.

There are daffodils shining brightly just about everywhere you look.

As the daffodils radiate their glory, so the faces around me radiate the joy that comes from being in the sunshine on a day that has not a cloud in the sky.

We find the busyness of planting flowers as the sun warms one's back (or relocating flowers, as the case may be...)

There are of course the birds of a feather that flock together...

This guy kind of looks like he's in charge, don't you think?

And we even saw a bird that seemed to have an injury...a bright red spot on his wing that we surmised might be blood.

 We so enjoyed being outside, and being together.

I hope that those who are reading this can hear my voice, and that it sounds genuine.  I mean all of it.  There is something to be said for spending time with people who are joyful.  It brings to mind the passage from John, where Jesus is talking to his disciples and he encourages them to remain in him; he goes on to say,"I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete."  I feel like when I am around my joyful family their joy rubs off on me and then my own gladness completes their joy, as well as that of my heavenly Father (or brother, however you want to say it).  Joy, joy, joyful, joyous, joy.  Can I use the word one more time?!

Watching Michaela delight in taking a picture of a bird in a tree...

or the sky through the branches...

These things bring me joy.  (Oh, look, I can use the word one more time!)

I love that Michaela took pictures and got her own shadow as well...

and I love seeing her own appreciation of the daffodils...

I love Christian's exuberance...

and Eliana's love for her daddy.  (It's mutual.)

I find that in spite of how I have been feeling recently, I am smiling.  How sweet that is.  How sweet they are.


Hope, In a Roundabout Way

I feel as though I need to clarify a few things after the previous post.

But I don't want to sound defensive...just explaining where I was coming from.  Okay?  (See me smiling here.)

It may have sounded like I have a bad case of the wantsies.  Anything from the big, fancy house to the whopping diamond.  I just wanted to say, and felt like I needed to say, that I don't really want those things.  Honestly, when I think back on all the places we've lived, the many different homes including apartments as well as houses, my own happiest time was in the smallest (well, almost the smallest) place we lived.  It was an apartment that was probably less than 1000 sq. feet.  It seemed so cozy, though.  And the most important thing for me when we were in that place was the friends that we had.

I don't want things...I want friends! 

Friends and chocolate.

I'm going to buy the 30 Day Shred.

Can this post be any more all over the place?

Wait!  It can!

This morning at church we had a special choir come and visit.  The Mwangaza Children's Choir sang at several of the services and then gave a free concert after church.  They are children that represent the kids in Uganda, both the orphaned and those just struggling to survive because of dire circumstances.  There are children who have witnessed first-hand such terrible things that we could never begin to imagine, or personally been through things that are beyond what we could come up with in our own minds.  And yet, there they were singing about the hope that is for all the nations, Jesus Christ.  The horrors of their own experiences are not stronger than the love of God that they have come to know and cling to. 

We sang Hillsong's Stronger in worship today; the chorus goes like this: 

You are stronger, You are stronger,
Sin is broken, You have saved me.
It is written, Christ is risen,
Jesus, You are Lord of all.

This last week (longer, really, but at an even greater level recently) I have allowed my mind to get a bit out of control.  As if you could be "a bit" out of control...once you are out of control, the results can be disastrous.  I have been angry and resentful, full of a crazy mixture of self-pity, self-degradation, pride, and guilt.  I am a human being, and as one I am sinful.  Very much so.  I try to ask God to forgive me, but my trouble lies in then accepting that forgiveness.  But if He says He forgives, then who am I to contradict Him?  Is He not the Almighty, the all-powerful Creator of the universe, from the biggest star to the tiniest speck of sand.  Even Nebuchadnezzer said,"No one can hold back His hand/ Or say to Him,'What have you done?"  I am going to accept that He does indeed forgive me, rather than wallow in the (very unproductive) mire and muck of self-loathing.  God does not want us to hate ourselves.  In fact, this is an affront to Him...He designed us in His image.  Shall we hate what has been created in His image? 

Here is what I believe:  His love and His lordship are stronger than the suffering of the boys and girls who are growing up in war-torn Uganda, and they are stronger than my sin.  Christ is risen.  And that truly is the hope of all the nations.