The Dark is Broken

The Dark is Broken

On the few mornings that my little guy wakes up before I do, he will wander into my room and announce “Mom, get up!  The sun is up!”.  Yesterday he arrived in my room at 4:30 AM.  As the sun was not yet up but he was, he reached the conclusion that there was some issue between the sun and the moon.  “Mom, I think the dark is broken.”

Ever have one of those mornings?  You know the ones.  You wake up, ready and wide awake for the day, only to discover that your day isn’t scheduled to start far a few more hours.  What do you do with that time?  Try to go back to sleep?  I generally end up exhausted all day if I do go back to sleep.  If you stay up, what can you do that doesn’t wake the whole house?  Its a bit of a dilemma.  It seems like you should be productive.  You may even want to be productive since you are awake and ready to start the day.


In thinking about all of this, I discovered that my son’s statement truly sums up the way I have been feeling for a while.  You see, there are several plans that we have made, things we want to accomplish but the timing hasn’t been right yet.  It’s like being awake early, ready to get started but it isn’t time yet.  Sometimes, I have felt frustrated by this timing.  Impatient.  It feels like the dark is broken.  Its lingering too long and not allowing the sun to shine.

As a parent, I see the clock.  I know that it isn’t yet time for the sun to shine.  I know that there is nothing wrong between the sun and the moon.  From my perspective, I am assured that the dark is in fact not broken.

Now I am reminded that God the Father can see what I do not.  He knows and understands things that are beyond my comprehension.  He knows that the dark is not broken.

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The Green Food Wars

The Green Food Wars

My oldest son went through a phase shortly after starting preschool.  He suddenly decided that he didn’t like to eat any food that was green.  As he had never been a picky eater, I attributed this to the influence of his friends at preschool.  Understanding the source of this issue did not, of course, mean that I was going to allow his new-found green food issue to continue.

Enter issue number two.  My child is stubborn.

And so…  the green food wars commenced!!!

“Eat your green beans.”

“I don’t like green stuff!”

“You liked them last week.”

“I don’t like them now.”

“Try one bite, just to make sure.”

Response?  Jaw firmly clamped shut and shaking his head ‘no’.

This battle would continue for what seemed like forever.  I admired his tenacity but come on!  How long could this kid hold out??  He could have been done and on to dessert long ago but instead he dodged my every attempt.  I knew he liked green beans!  If he would only taste just one, he would remember he liked them too!

Eventually, I managed to negotiate one small green bean into his little mouth and oh the wonder!!  He remembered they were good and he ate them all.  Finally!!

Now this was only one battle.  We had to battle with the reintroduction of every green vegetable.  Often more than once!!

A few years later, we entered the homework wars.  Similar in nature as we spent more time arguing the point than it would have taken to just do the work.


I’m not telling you this to complain about my kid.  I have a certain twisted pride in his stubbornness.  Maybe it is because I happen to know that he is genetically predisposed to this bull-headed nature of his.

I have been in similar places as an adult.  I know what I need to do.  I know what I am supposed to do and yet, I resist.  In order to do what I don’t want to do, I have to fight past the voice inside that is screaming “I DON’T LIKE THAT!!”  In the end, I question myself much like I have questioned my son.  “Why didn’t you just do it and get it done?  Fighting just made the unpleasantness last longer.”  For me, I believe that the answer to that question would be fear.  Fear that whatever it is that I am resisting will be worse than the unpleasantness I experience while I resist.  Fear of failure.  Fear of failing to measure up to the task in front of me.  Fear of being perceived as foolish or clumsy or stupid.  Fear of change.

Often, like getting dessert after eating the green beans, I find that the greatest blessings sit waiting on the other side of fear.  I believe that God has great things in store for us if only we will allow our faith to be greater than our fear.

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Not Fair

Not Fair

I’ve been trying for days to write a post.  Every time I have begun, I have ended up deleting, logging out and moving on.  The thing is, recently, life has not been fair.  I know.  No one ever said it was supposed to be.  There are just days when it seems to all hit at once and knock the wind out of you.  Or maybe, it’s just me…

As a rule, I try to make my posts helpful or encouraging but its difficult sometimes.  I’ve learned that forcing it doesn’t work here.  When I write with an agenda instead of from my heart it falls flat.  I know it and I feel like I haven’t given those who read it much of value to take away with them.  On good days I still struggle with the feeling of vulnerability that comes with putting my thoughts, opinions and stories out for the world to read.  When I know it’s not my best, it can be truly nerve-wracking.  I don’t want to take a moment of discouragement and forever memorialize it here.

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I have faith that “all things work together for good to them that love God…” (Romans 8:28) but knowing that there is a greater plan at work is not helping me to shake this deflated and worn out feeling.  Knowing that gratitude is one of the greatest antidotes to feelings like this, I am going to take my own advice.  So today, I’m going to share with you one of the greatest gifts that I have in my life.  I have the sweetest support system.

At the worst moment of the week, my family surrounded me with love.  My teenager wordlessly wrapped me in a hug, not knowing what had happened.  He saw the look of shock on my face and came to give me comfort.  My little one held on tight and then, in hopes of helping Mommy feel less sad, he brought the crew of teddy bears to hug Mommy too.  My husband not only provided the moral support of hugs, he cooked and took over everything else that needed to be done so that I could have time to process.

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Moments like these reinforce my belief in the necessity for human connections.  They remind me why I tend to harp on the need to nourish our relationships.  Life is not fair but these moments are easier when we don’t carry the burden alone.

I am blessed and life is good even when it isn’t fair.

Secrets, Surprises and Lies

Secrets, Surprises and Lies

Anyone who has been around little kids knows that you never quite know what will come out of their mouths.  Most of us know that you can’t trust little people with secrets even if its intended to be a surprise.  Like Mother’s Day weekend….

Saturday afternoon my husband offered to take the kids with him to run errands.  Sweet!!  I would have an hour or two of quiet to get a few things done.  When they returned home, my boys were the first to come in the house.

The four-year old found me in the kitchen and proudly asked “Mom, do you like flowers?”

“Yes. I do.” I answered.

He smiled and said “Great because we…..”  This is the moment when his teenage brother reached him and clamped a hand over his mouth.

I burst out laughing which is when my husband entered the house.  No harm done.  My Mother’s Day started a little early since the cat was already out of the bag.


Last night, the four-year old was playing a video game with his dad when I heard the f-bomb from his little mouth.  I responded by reminding him of his full given name in a scolding tone of voice.

“I’m sorry Mom.”  he said.

The teenager piped up and said “What?  He’s playing a game.  He said ‘duck'”.

“Uh huh…” I look at the four-year old, “Did you say ‘duck’?”

“No.” he answered.  (Giving little man full marks for honesty here)

The teenager whispered to his brother “Dude, trying to help you.  Stick with my story next time.”

And this is when I scolded the teenager for trying to teach his brother to lie.

I love that my children talk to me and I know that it is very important to keep the lines of communication open.  Surprises are great but by the time you get to the teenage years, secrets and lies can be worrisome.  I know my boys.  I know their hearts and I know that they are growing toward being great men.  My oldest has always been a great weaver of stories but he knows that I know him well enough to bust him in a lie pretty quickly.  He doesn’t try it often with me and last night’s attempt was (mostly) in jest.

We live in a world where we have so much information at our fingertips.  Most of us have learned that WWE wrestling is fake and you can’t trust that everything you see on the internet is true.  As of this last week, we learned we can’t trust CNN for accurate news.  Because of these things, teaching our kids to be open and honest is harder and more important than ever.

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We need to set aside time to talk to our kids and really listen when they talk to us.  We need to know these young people we are raising and they need to know that they are heard, really heard.  We have to set the example for open and honest communication for our kids to follow.  The reward is long-term and you never know how much fun you’ll have just talking to them.

You never can quite predict what a four-year old might say…

 

The Great Explore (Rough Draft)

The Great Explore (Rough Draft)

I sat down the other day recalling a fun time we had at the old family farm.  As I thought about our little explore, a story came to mind.  Hope y’all don’t mind if I share!

It is rough and I haven’t had time to work on any illustration….

The sun shown brightly in the big blue sky. It was a beautiful day.

Lady Eden, Lady Ellie and Master Nate prepared for a great adventure. They gathered the supplies they would need and were ready to go when their carriage arrived.

Carefully they all climbed in and settled themselves behind the driver.

Then off they went!! First they ventured down the long, narrow lane until they saw the great gray tower.

The driver gently eased the carriage around the tower and as he did, Lady Eden and Master Nate wondered at the height of it. Could it possibly reach the sky? Lady Ellie felt the wind in her face and smiled.

Then they were off again. They traveled on until they came to the great red cave where the wild cats live. Again the driver slowed to ease his way around in an effort not to rouse the beasts. Lady Eden and Master Nate strained for a glimpse of the great cats but alas none to be had. Lady Ellie felt the warmth of the sun on her face and closed her eyes.

Just past the great red cave was the home of the fire breathing dragon. It was big and green and well, the driver kept his distance. Lady Eden and Master Nate’s eyes glistened with excitement! What would happen if the fire breathing dragon woke up? Lady Ellie saw a butterfly and reached out to touch it.

Finally, they reached the end of their ride in the carriage. They would have to travel on from here on foot. Lady Eden and Master Nate thought a run along the path to be nice after the long ride in the carriage. Lady Ellie saw bug that scurried in the grass.

Soon they came to a great dark wood, and venture in they did. Lady Eden and Master Nate explored as best they could. It was deep and dark and scary about with creepy crawly things. Lady Ellie felt no fright, she wrangled one of the woodland creatures and took it for a ride.

The sun was fading and the sky grew dim as the trio made their way back to the carriage and settled in behind the driver. Off they went after their great explore.

Back past the great green fire breathing dragon.

On by the red cave where the wild cats live.

Away to the tall gray tower.

Finally, back down the long narrow lane.

Lady Eden and Master Nate talked of their adventures. They talked of sky tall towers, wild cats, dragons and the mysterious deep dark forest. They excitedly began to plan their next expedition.

Lady Ellie laid on a blanket. She closed her eyes and drifted off to continue her adventure in dreamland.

I know it needs the illustrations but if anyone has any other thoughts, I would love to hear them!!

Building Walls and Other Things Crazy Emotional People Do

Every morning my little guy comes out of his room with an armful of teddy bears.  He deposits these bears on the sofa and then gives me the greatest, warmest hug.  If you have kids or have ever been close to a child, you will understand that they can give the best hugs because they don’t hold back.  They haven’t yet begun to censor their thoughts, words and emotions.  We call these snuggle hugs.  Some days I end up with my arms full of bears and the boy.  In these moments we talk, we laugh and we engage in a way that the rest of the busy day doesn’t often allow.  Its special and I treasure it.


I treasure his openness.  He loves without fear or reservation and without question that he is loved in return.  It makes me wonder, at what point do we begin to lose the ability to open ourselves up like that?  It seems to me that I have always been one to build emotional walls.  Always be polite, do what I’m supposed to do and smile, but never let others get too close.  I have always thought that I was different in that respect.  I am too thin-skinned…  too emotional…  a little too crazy…

Maybe, just maybe, I’m not all that different.  Maybe we all have parts of ourselves that we hide from the world because we don’t think they are acceptable.  Maybe the “thin-skinned, emotional and crazy” parts of me are what fuels my creativity and allows me to create things that others may enjoy. Maybe we all adapt ourselves to conform to what we think the world wants to see in us.  If we could allow ourselves to embrace those things that make us unique, could we open ourselves to more?  Could we learn to love and hug like a child again?  Could we see the true beauty in others?


It’s kind of scary for me and I’m not sure I have any answers for how to adjust these emotional habits.  I would be interested in any insights anyone else may have on this.

 

Happily Ever After

Happily Ever After

“Once upon a time…”  the stories begin.  They are filled with excitement and romance.  There is some great issue to overcome and once they have done it?  Well, we all know the story ends with “they lived happily ever after.”.  Pretty much every fairy tale and Disney movie…  Ever.  Now, I’m not saying that there is anything wrong with letting our kids hear these stories or watch the cartoons.  I do think that we need to be careful to show our kids a very real example that in real life, happily ever after takes time, work and commitment because Disney sets a pretty unrealistic example.

One night, early in my marriage, we had friends over for dinner.  This couple had been dating for years but were not yet married.  As it happened, my husband and I were not very happy with each other that evening.  We snipped at each other, probably more than we should have in front of guests, but we were young.  The conversation that followed was truly amazing to me.

“You’re fighting!” said the young lady.

“Yes.” I responded.

“But you’re married!” She looked at me wide-eyed.

“Yes.” I responded.

“You fight when you are married??” she said in total shock.

“Yes.” I said and started laughing.

You see, in this young lady’s home, her parents never disagreed in front of the children.  All she ever saw was “happily ever after”.  I don’t doubt that her parents were happy or that they did the very real work of staying happily married, but their daughter never saw the work.  I can see how images like this could lead to marriages that don’t last long.  Either parents give the example of calling it quits when times get hard or they make it look easy.


Add in that we have a generation of people who are often more in tune to their technology than engaging with other people.  A generation that has been raised on quick fixes and disposable, well, everything.  A generation that has been rewarded with trophies just for showing up.  How can we expect them to know that “happily ever after” isn’t guaranteed with the exchanging of rings, unless we set the example.

Yes, I know that there are valid reasons to end a marriage but we all know that too often marriages end because it isn’t fun, exciting or romantic anymore.  If it isn’t “happily ever after” then call it quits.  Forget about promising “for better or worse”.

So once again, I call upon us as parents to be the teacher to our kids.  We need to teach them that deep and long-lasting relationships take effort and commitment but bring a great reward.  The reward for them is to learn that “happily ever after” is very possible and truly worth the effort.