Allowing My Love to Permeate

We had a wonderful lesson in Sunday School today.  It resonated not only with me, but with the other members in my class.   My husband and I had nursery duty today, so we were unable to attend our Pastor’s sermon, but my understanding is that it followed along with our lesson.   The lesson was about returning to your first love…Jesus Christ.   As Christians, we are taught to always return to a love for Christ that permeates everything we do.   At times, we find ourselves straying.  Perhaps, day-to-day life gets in the way.   Other times, we get settled into our routines and sometimes those routines are not allowing room for Jesus.   I’m definitely guilty of this.

Once upon a time, when I would get frustrated with my boys or life, I would retreat to a chair in another room, whip out my Bible and start reading.   Davey used to say to me, “Mommy, do you need Jesus?” when I would start counting to 10 in order to calm myself down before berating him or his brother for flushing legos down the toilet.   These days I’m afraid that I’ve allowed my relationship with God to start sliding.   One thing I was most proud of was that my boys would see me taking time to read the Bible.  They would see me in quiet prayer or reflection with God.  I hang my head low now as I admit that they haven’t seen that in a while.

So, tonight I made sure to carve out some time, any time I could to read a Bible study and a couple of passages in the Bible.  It’s funny how God always know when you need Him most.  He knows that today is the best day to start back over with me.   He forgives me for my laziness and my sinful nature.  He loves me and He encourages me and today’s Bible study reminded me of that.

It starts with the commandment to Honor Thy Mother and Father and takes me into Ephesians, Chapter 6, verses 1-4.  I want to take this time to share verse 4 with you, more specifically my fellow parents out there who find themselves overwhelmed.

“Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up with the training and instruction of the Lord.”  Ephesians 6:4

I reflected on this passage for quite some time and I’ve looked back over the past few weeks as Henry has become more strong-willed and Davey more head strong.   I’ve started developing a lot of gray hair (my stylists calls it glitter) thanks to these two and I feel that lately I’ve been quick to anger and raise my voice.  This isn’t the way the Lord wants me to discipline my children.  I know this, but I haven’t exactly heeded His words or commands.  I haven’t been allowing God’s Love to permeate and I definitely don’t think I’ve been allowing my love to permeate as well.

Being a parent is a hard job.  It’s the toughest, most stressful, and yet most rewarding job you’ll ever have.   If you mess up with your kids, then there’s not really a do-over.   You can’t take a “pay cut” or find another job.   This is it.   But when you get it right, man does it feel like you’ve hit a grand slam in your final ever at bat.

I’ve allowed too many other things to “interfere” with my life and my boys’ lives.   My backsliding from God has hurt us all, but I want to remember what it was like when I first became a Christian and committed my life to God.  I felt relieved.  I was happy.   My stress level plummeted and I felt like for the first time ever things were going right in my life.   It’s time to get that back again and to start letting that permeate through to my boys.

I encourage you all to take that closer look.   To ask yourself how it felt being a Christian for the first time.   Find a way to let the love permeate.

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Stories From Davey

I watched from my perch above, having just opened the window. The fresh, warm air pushed in like water bursting forth from a dam. I felt it smother me before a breeze of the wind flushed the heat from my face. I laid hidden from my entertainers, they unaware of what they were, and me, their unseen audience.

The sun danced between the branches and the little buds of leaves starting to form. Shadows began forming and almost gesticulating on the grass below. I watched as the occasional breeze blew a stray leaf into a frenzy of somersaults, while the others were forced into their gymnastics by my husband’s and son’s rakes.

They, more specifically my husband, were taking advantage of the beautiful, Spring-like day to attack are neglected yard. What few trees we have are bare to the bone and have been for months now after shedding their foliage. As usual, we put off yard work as long as possible. We’re not afraid of the work, the character or strength it builds, or the feeling of accomplishment at the end of a long day’s work. No, we’d just rather be outside doing other things.

As Davey has grown older, he’s idolized his daddy more and more. To quote the words of King Louie from the Jungle Book, Davey likes to say about his daddy, “I want talk like you, walk like you, be like you.” There are a lot worse things in life than a young boy worshipping his father. So, to see Davey “working” hard alongside his daddy really just swells my heart.

I, unfortunately, was banished inside over the weekend, suffering the consequences of a stomach bug that seems to be floating around. My husband took over parenting responsibilities solo and managed to maintain the house as well, but decided to go a step further and rake the leaves. This is where my entertainment began.

I stood above, at our bathroom window, watching and listening as Davey talked to his daddy. I watched my husband continue to rake, not skipping a beat regardless of what Davey told him. I stifled a chuckle, but still smiled happily when Davey dropped his rake and patting his chest said, “Daddy, this is my Captain America shirt.” My husband responded with, “that’s right, buddy.” Then the conversation continued much to my amusement.

“Mommy, bought this shirt for me at Wal-Mart,” Davey said.

“It’s a good shirt, buddy,” my husbanded replied while attacking the pile of leaves.

“I wore it to the Y and mommy came in and said, ‘what’s going up, Captain America?'” Davey replied.

“Are you sure mommy didn’t say, ‘what’s up’ or ‘what’s going on’?” my husband asked.

“Mmmm. She said, ‘what’s going up, Captain America’, because I was wearing a Captain America shirt. Isn’t it a great shirt, daddy?” Davey asked.

“Captain America is a great shirt,” my husband said as he viciously shook out the folds of a lawn bag, before stuffing them down into the garbage can. I tried to imagine being down on the ground with them, to see the look in my husband’s eyes as Davey became the reincarnate of a Chatty Cathy doll with a broken string.

Davey continued on, as my husband raked. With each heave of the rake, Davey had something new to say. Was my husband truly listening to him or was he just going through the motions? Was he rolling his eyes? Was he silently chuckling? Or was he doing just as I was doing and becoming amazed at the thoughts that were rolling forth from our son’s mouth.

Once upon a time, my husband and I used to work our yard in peace and quiet. We focused on our task at hand and girded ourselves for what needed to be done. Our work went along much quicker then, especially seeing as how every five seconds we didn’t hear, “Daddy, turn your eyes around and look at me while I’m talking.”

Some days, I cringe at the thought of what could possibly come out of my child’s mouth. What sort of story is he going to regale us with today? Will it be true or something fictional and of the own inner workings of his brain. Some days, I watch him as he tells us stories. I’m convinced I can see the wheels and cogs spinning in his brain as his heart pumps out the love that fills the stories. I wonder how long it takes for him to come up with what he wants to say. What sort of effort goes into them? But for the most part, I love my daily stories from Davey, everything from dragons who fight, planes who speaks, and penguins who karate chop their way into the storybook of our lives. We even hear stories of Jesus, Noah, and Moses. It’s never a dull moment and I’m thankful for them every day.

Goodbye, Christmas.

I am sad, truly sad. I hate when Christmas is over. I adore the feeling of love, hope, and celebration. It is truly the most wonderful time of the year. Alas, all good things must come to an end and with that here’s a quick glimpse of how we spent our Christmas.

I expected Davey to be difficult. He is, of course, at that age where he wants to open EVERY present, but thankfully he asked everyone’s permission to help them. In most cases, his “help” was really just him devouring the paper all by his lonesome. This year; however, was truly different and my oldest made me beam with pride. For every gift he received, BEFORE he opened them, he thanked every one with huge hugs for getting him a gift! How crazy is that? He didn’t even know what was in the gift, but yet he was so ecstatic to receive one he immediately had to thank the recipient. And what’s better than that? When he opened a box full of clothes, he didn’t once complain about the clothes not being a toy. He gave even bigger hugs! What’s wrong with my child?

Decorating trees
Decorating trees

Henry wasn’t interested in any gift. Surprise, surprise! He wasn’t even interested in tearing apart the wrapping. This worked well with Davey as it gave him more gifts to open. I guess what surprised me the most; however, was Davey sheer excitement over one particular gift…SOCKS! Yes, I just typed that word. My three year old was excited over socks, but here’s the kicker, they were not just ordinary socks. These socks had Lightning McQueen on them. You can never go wrong with anything Cars or Planes. Those Disney movies, and their spinoffs, are winners in my household.

Decorating Trees
Decorating Trees

The funniest and almost most mortifying (at least for me) part of Christmas Eve was the moment I opened a gift with Davey’s help. Inside the gift were two new bras to which my son exclaimed, “Mama, look, these hold your nipples. Aren’t you excited?” Yes, my three year old blurted out those words. If I hadn’t been surrounded by family I would have been mortified.

Decorating cookies
Decorating cookies

All in all, Christmas did not disappoint. We continued with old traditions, started new ones, and celebrated our lives and the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ. This year, Davey new more about the Christmas story and could practically repeat it himself. He was eager to tell everyone the true meaning of Christmas and that Jesus was born in Bethlehem. We baked cookies together, decorated trees, and gave each other love.

Helping in the kitchen.
Helping in the kitchen.

And all though this mama slacked with her Elf on the Shelf responsibilities, all of your posts and pictures have encouraged me for next year.

putting out reindeer food.
putting out reindeer food.

Now it’s onto the tedious and saddening task of undecorating my trees and placing them into hibernation until next year.

So, from my family to yours, we hope you’ve had a very Merry Christmas. I pray that you’ve all remember the true meaning, and you celebrated it. For the New Year, I hope it is a blessed one and that if you’ve never experienced our Lord’s magic and gifts that you find a way to Him.

So This is Christmas

I awoke this morning to the news of so many children losing their lives at the hands of armed gunman. It’s not an unusual story to hear about on the news. Two years ago, a deranged young man took the life of his mother along with numerous elementary aged children in Newtown, CT before eventually ending his own life. Hearing these stories at a time when we, as Christians, celebrate the birth of the greatest child to be born, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, is extremely heart breaking.

We are exactly nine days away from celebrating the birthday of Jesus, a child born unto this world who would ultimately die for our sins. This is a time of love, happiness, and joy, but yet it’s hard to maintain that level of enthusiasm when we’re inundated with so much evil and hatred.

As I continued to listen to the news reports throughout the morning of the children who died at the hands of Taliban terrorists, I evolved from a state of anger to a state of sadness. As a mother, my perspective on life and society is much different than what it once was. I find that I put myself into the shoes of other parents, that I find a way to empathize with them, and I pray. I pray that the Lord guides these parents. I pray that He helps them to heal and forgive. I pray that they never feel His absence.

And then, when I can no longer stay in the shoes of other parents, I look at my children and think back to my childhood.

Christmas was always a magical time. The days seemed infinite. The minutes ticked by slowly on Christmas Eve as we sat alongside the fireplace and watched television, listened to music, and told stories. I always worried we wouldn’t make it home in time for bed and that Santa would bypass our house. After all, he did have a lot of packages to deliver and he needed to get a head start.

When I was the age of many of these children killed in Pakistan today, the worst thing I’d ever seen happen was the Challenger explosion. It made me cry because it had been such a huge thing to have an average American, a teacher, going up in space. It was mechanical failure, not failure of society or the human heart like the majority of the tragedies are these days.

When I was the age of many of these children, I didn’t worry about my education. I didn’t worry about my safety at school, or that someone would try to deny me of it. I didn’t fear that at any point my city or town would be bombed. I was a child, living a carefree life. I was a child doing exactly what a child should be doing…not fretting about the insensitivities and violence knocking on my door.

When the shooting of Newtown happened, Davey was just over a year old. I cried for the longest time as I watched parents with children who would never open presents on Christmas morning. I sobbed uncontrollably at the thought that these parents would wake up the next morning and not see the smiles of their children, their laughs, and inquisitive natures. I thanked the Lord right then for my blessings and I hugged Davey harder.

This morning, I found myself doing the same thing once again with both Davey and Henry. What a gift these boys are to me. How wonderfully blessed I am to have them in my life. I can’t imagine waking up one day to the realization that their little lives were snuffed out at the hands of selfish, inhumane monsters. I can’t imagine how or why anyone would want to hurt children, the most innocent and pure of society. A child shouldn’t have to carry the burdens of this world. Jesus Christ did that for us. He suffered for our sins and yet we are still a horribly sinful world when things like the murders of innocent children is occurring.

On days like today, I find myself playing John Lennon’s “Happy Christmas (War is Over)” in my head. How many of you have actually listened to the words? I’m not a huge fan of John Lennon, but what a wonderful song he wrote. He asks, “So this is Christmas. What have you done? Another year over and a new one just begun”. What have we done, as God’s children, this year? And then the tears start to fall when I hear him sing, “Let’s hope it’s a good one, without any fear.”

As a Christian, I implore all of you to please think beyond yourselves. Think about, “the weak and the strong, the rich and the poor, for the road is so long.”

Don’t take a day for granted, don’t miss a moment. Hug your children, love them, and set an example for them. Think about those children who won’t get a Christmas this year, or for those who won’t breathe life again. Think about your childhood, be it good or bad, and want more for those who’ve come after you. Let the true spirit of the season overwhelm you and fill your heart with more love than you ever thought imaginable.

I Can’t Go For That…But I Did

And so starts the holiday season. It’s the season of giving thanks, although that’s something we should consciously do every second, every minute, every hour of our lives. It’s the season for parties, for celebrations of the love we share. It’s a time for family gatherings, gorging ourselves with some of the unhealthiest of foods. It’s the season to toss out that exercise regime because you know deep down you’re not going to be able to really lose any weight. It’s the season for shopping, snagging deals, wrapping presents, decorating houses, and to celebrate the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ. Yes, the holiday season is officially upon us.

First season at the new Yankee stadium
First season at the new Yankee stadium

Last week, the day before Thanksgiving, my husband and I decided to load up the boys and make a trip to Atlanta. We wanted to do a little pre-holiday shopping. When we go on road trips, it’s my responsibility to man the controls of our entertainment. I’ve always been one to sing and dance to music. I like to choose some of the cheesiest melodies and groove away. I stumbled across Hall & Oates’ “I Can’t Go For That”. My husband told our oldest son, that this duo was a true classic, some of the best singer/songwriters around. I looked at him and smiled. I knew what he was thinking. He was thinking about our first ever New Year’s Eve together almost 11 years ago.

Experiencing Niagara Falls
Experiencing Niagara Falls

We were at a friend’s house watching Dick Clark’s Rockin’ New Year’s Eve. Hall & Oates were one of the featured groups and they were singing an all time favorite, “Maneater”. So every time I hear a Hall & Oates song, I’m immediately transported back to that first New Year’s Eve. All of this then led me to think about everything I’m thankful for and how it couldn’t have been possible if I hadn’t met this wonderful man.

Cruising in St. Lucia
Cruising in St. Lucia

We sat in traffic on the ride back, rummaging through our memories as I replayed all the Hall & Oates songs on my iPod. Our boys had fallen asleep which left us some very precious peace and quiet to really reflect upon each other and how far we’ve come.

I can still remember the day my husband first walked into my life, how he smiled as he slid through the door of my friend Jennifer’s apartment. He was, and still is, the most handsome man I’d ever laid eyes on. I watched him briefly before averting my eyes when he caught me staring. No way would someone this hot ever be interested in me, were the exact words floating through my brain. Luckily for me, I was the first person he came over to talk to.

Charlotte NASCAR race
Charlotte NASCAR race

We dated, broke up, dated again, got married, separated briefly, came to our senses and worked through our problems, and eventually brought 2 boys into this world exactly like us. We’ve had a roller coaster of a ride in the past 11 years, some of which I regret and would change, but everything brought us to who we are and where we are today and for that I’m thankful.

Tampa Aquarium
Tampa Aquarium

I’m thankful beyond words that my husband chose me to talk to 11 years ago. I’m thankful that he fell in love with me. I’m thankful that when he broke up with me, he came to his senses and realized that he wanted me back. I’m thankful that he asked me to marry him. I’m thankful that he didn’t give up on our marriage, when I had. I’m thankful that he became a Christian, thereby helping to insure our home has a strong Christian leader. I’m thankful for the children he helped me bear, the beautiful boys who are replicas of both of us, two of my most precious little gifts in the world. Without my husband, I can only imagine how I may have aimlessly walked through life never experiencing the true love and enjoyment of being a mother.

Myrtle Beach
Myrtle Beach

My children are my greatest accomplishment and no way could I have ever achieved that without my husband.

As the Thanksgiving weekend rolled along, I watched every movement my husband made. I watched him interact with our two boys, watching television, reading books, and helping cook. I watched every little nuance and my heart swelled with so much love and contentment. No way would any of this life have been possible without him.

I am truly blessed beyond all belief and for that I’m thankful.

Alcatraz
Alcatraz