Three Statements She Needed to Hear Me Say

“How precious are your thoughts about me, O God.  They cannot be numbered.” – Psalm 139:17

After a series of events from articles I’d read to things I’d overheard from moms, teen girls and teen guys, I pulled my daughter aside to tell her three things about dating. She needed to hear these things from me –her mom. Not just my expectations, but to tell her the power she holds. Truth spoken into her for encouragement to stand firm and continue working towards being who God is calling her to be. Failure to recognize her power and value could potentially affect her perception of herself and how she separates herself from the culture in which she lives.

Number One:

“You are worth being wooed.” Woo. Seems like such an old fashioned kind of word, yet women desire to be wooed – to be sought after or to be made an effort for. If a guy wants to take you out, you are worth a little extra work. I’m not saying he has to spend mega bucks or excessive time on antics, but creating a date plan, being a gentleman, and greeting you politely are definitely expected. A guy making an effort for you shows his sincerity.

Number Two:

“You do not owe him anything.” Be polite and nice; however, regardless of what a guy says, you have the right to not engage in any form of physical or sexual act. If there is any pressure to do anything you are not comfortable with, you have the power to end the date and leave. It is ok to say “no”. In fact, you will probably have to say “no” at some point in time. Don’t lower your standards for a date. On another note – know what your standards are before you even go out.

Number Three:

“Be you.” If a guy doesn’t like who you are, you don’t need to be with him. If he’s always correcting you or putting you down, you do not have to stay around him. Television, social media, books, friends, Pinterest articles, etc. tell us who we should be and what we should expect in dating. So much fabricated information. However, when you cover yourself in all that information it is easy to lose your way, have unrealistic expectations and forget who you are. Know where to find the truth about who you are by continuing to seek God’s word. Never forget you were created for a purpose and are wonderfully made. You are cherished and loved before you step foot out of this house to even go on a date. You have value in being you.

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Sharing Space

“And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart.” – Ezekiel 36:26 NLT

I have a confession. I struggle with sharing. Kind of makes me feel like a toddler to admit it, but it’s true. I can share food, clothes, and other material goods, but I really struggle with sharing my space.

Back in January of this year, I made a New Year’s resolution to be more open with my home. I wanted to invite people into my space and spend time with them. I was thinking more like dinner or coffee, but that’s not the way it has worked.

January started with a series of people over for dinner. Then in February we hosted some friends from Africa for a week.  People we dearly love.  Even so, hospitality was a stretch for me. (Hospitality is truly not my comfort zone. I try, try, try (probably over try); it is just hard, hard, hard for me.) I think the visit went well, but I definitely had some unsteady moments.

March and April were filled with varying experiences from my kids’ friends. Then came late April when my son called to ask if we would be willing to host his future roommate for the summer who had taken an internship in our area and needed a place to stay. I prayed about it and offered half the summer, hoping we could split with another family. (It may sound selfish, but I wanted my space for at least half the summer.)

That didn’t quite work out.

My son called right before he left for Ireland for three weeks in May to tell me his friend probably needed our home for the whole summer. I conceited but was fearfully reluctant, having met the guy only a couple of times.

When picking up my son at the airport after Ireland, we ran into his friend. I wasn’t sure when he was moving in so I asked. He informed me, “Tomorrow.”

Tomorrow came.

My son’s friend is a super guy gifted in gab and photography. He jumped into “my space” really comfortably and soon became part of the household.

In fact, everything was going well until my husband and daughter headed on a trip to Uganda to do some work with the couple we hosted in February.

I learned some things about myself that week, I wasn’t particularly fond of. With the stabilizing comfort of my husband gone, I wanted “my space” back really badly. I worked diligently to bury the resentment of having to share my home with this young man, but I still became divisive in my heart and cruel with my thoughts. Although, I tried to maintain an outer coat of genuine hospitality, my inner heart grew tainted.  Towards the end of the second week of my husband’s absence – I cracked. I wasn’t able to keep it in anymore.

I kept asking myself why this was bothering me. The guy staying with us wasn’t doing anything wrong. Why was it so hard to share space? After a couple of melt downs I came clean speaking honestly with both my son and his friend.  I was relieved both were gentle with me, although I suspect I hurt feelings as I spoke. I needed help with “our space” not only with chores, but also with me. In all the guilt I was feeling over not wanting to share space, I wasn’t taking care of myself and giving myself grace through the stress I was under with my husband gone. I needed to allow myself some solitude and not feel guilty about it. I also needed time with God to remove the ugly places built up in my heart hanging out with the over dramatized resentment and hurt feelings.

After confession and some well needed conversations with God, there were some things God showed me He was doing in our household.

First. My home really isn’t “my space”. It is God’s. God wants my family to share our home with others so we can share His love with others. Hosting and inviting people over to this amazing space allows us to provide comfort and care to others in need of God’s amazing grace.

Second. God has used our houseguest to teach me quite a bit. My son’s friend and I are polar opposites on the personality scale. While I want to run and hide, this kid boldly burst into whatever he is facing. He’s also not afraid to ask for help. One of my largest struggles. Watching him over the summer has kind of been like having a living You-Tube tutorial right in “my space.”

Thirdly. I was worried our family wouldn’t have as many personal family moments. That simply wasn’t true. We still did stuff as a family, sometimes with our houseguest, sometimes without. There were still times my son and I met for lunch, my daughter and I still did girl things and there were still plenty of family movie nights. Having an extra smile at dinner was nice, too. Especially since he even complimented the “food gone wrong” evenings.

Lastly, I got to see parts of my son, I would’ve never experienced without his friend around. Since my son moved to college he changed and grew up. He wasn’t the same person who left home last fall. Having his friend here in our house, allowed me to experience those changes because he hung out more at home. Also, when I broke down during the time my husband was out, I received grace from my son. Grace I didn’t even know was there. He is a really great guy! God blessed me with opportunities to see him in a different light this summer.

I’m not going to lie. I still struggle with sharing space – but… I’ve grown a lot over the summer. I am grateful for struggle, too. God has shown me through this struggle, He is still at work in me. He has also shown me how much He is working in my son. And that makes my momma heart very happy.

When Our Kids Hurt

“David therefore sought God on behalf of the child. And David fasted and went in and lay all night on the ground.” 2 Samuel 12:16

“It hurts when our kids hurt.” I heard a friend say on the phone. It does hurt. It’s a deep kind of “I want to fix this desperately” kind of hurt. The problem is we can’t always fix it. Learning to overcome pain is one of life’s lessons. It’s a lesson that teaches discernment, compassion, and often even wisdom. But there are a couple of things we can do.

  1. We can listen with our ears and open arms. Listening allows the hurt to be shared so it doesn’t stay trapped inside. Open arms allow tears a safe place to fall.
  2. We can pray and fast for our children. We can ask for God’s wisdom and guidance for our children. We can fast from food, entertainment, social media…. (The list goes on.) to help focus on the prayers over our children. We can also pray and fast over our role in the struggles our children go though.

A walk and/or a hot cup of tea (cocoa, insert beverage choice) might help the moment, as well. Along with the reminder, “This too shall pass.” Although, I’ll be the first to admit, that’s hard to swallow when the wound is deep.

It’s easy to want to lash out, unfortunately that can teach our children to handle hurt with anger. (That’s not real pretty. I’ve learned that one the hard way.) However, there are times we have to step in and stand up for our children. Each situation is different. That’s why listening and prayer are so important. When we listen we can discern better and gain a broader picture figuring out what questions to ask. Then when we pray we can surrender to God all the hurts and questions, waiting to listen again for His peace and/or His guidance in action.

One last thought. Praying with our children through their trials not only teaches them who to take their hurts to, but also that they are not alone through them; even when we are not there to embrace them.

We may not be able to fix each of our children’s hurts, but we can certainly teach them what to do when hurts come.

 

Life at Thorntonville School Year Review

“I am the Lord; there is no other God. I have equipped you for battle, though you don’t even know me, ‘so all the world from east to west will know there is no other God. I am the Lord, and there is no other.’ I create the light and make the darkness. I send good times and bad times. I the Lord, am the one who does these things.” Isaiah 45:5-7

What a school year! I’m taking a moment to just reflect on the time from August to September. To enjoy some of the most impacting moments from Thorntonville.

Back up. It really all started in June.

In June my husband began a new job. He had been on the same banking team for twenty years when he left for a new team and opportunity. Over this year I have been inspired by his ability to adapt to change. I have also witnessed him slowly win over a team, learning even more about leadership. He’s had some ideas shot down and had to recover with his team watching; he’s implemented concepts that were new, encouraged team mates and worked hard to facilitate a team working environment. He hasn’t done all this alone. Many prayers were answered when God blessed my husband with an incredible mentor who met with him challenging him to keep God first and helped strengthen his leadership skills.

In August we dropped our son off for his first year of college. Two sets of parents between him and his roommate (and a younger sister), we all worked to create a space for two boys in a small dorm room. It ended with the parents leaving and letting the boys arrange the room on their own. I left the college that evening filled with so many emotions. Excitement, fear, anticipation, sorrow in knowing I was going to miss him like crazy. And I did. Then over the year came the joys of victory as he met challenge after challenge. Two weeks ago I went to help him move home. Not the boy he was when he left, but a man. Still room for growth, but tremendous growth revealed. Amazing!

In August my baby started high school. She marched in on the first day confident, but  nervous.  She has had to fight for some of her dreams, learn to let go of some things that didn’t really matter, and discern the difference. She has had to choose between passions because there wasn’t enough time to do it all, find courage to talk to teachers about grades she didn’t care for, pick herself up when she stumbled and plant a smile on her face when she felt like crying. We’ve discovered high school prepares for life in ways that are unexpected. She was our princess. Now she is our warrior princess. In another week, she will have completed her sophomore year.  She’s a fighter- a compassionate one. We learned all that since August. Well… some of it we already knew.

In September, I started back teaching Bible studies.  Having been out of the saddle for a few years I was really nervous.  It took months for me to get my groove on.  It took even longer for the reality of how much I loved it to set in.  One of my classes was a group of women who were so patient with me.  We all grew in God’s word together.  The second class I co-taught with my daughter.  First graders.  We were all a mess.  But in the end we learned so much and loved each one of those kiddos.  God had to get me over myself in both classes.  I was constantly tripping on my own insecurity.  In the end, I walked away stronger, wiser, and ready to implement the things I had learned.

In October my dad was diagnosed with cancer. I wept. I was frightened for him. Afraid of loosing him. In January I went to visit him and went with him to one of his radiation treatments. My relationship with him will be forever changed. He was brave. He was strong in ways I had never imagined. He was kind to those he came into contact with despite the discomfort of the disease. He shared more information than I ever wanted to hear, but he shared more than information. He shared himself through his vulnerability. It was beautiful. He was beautiful. When he finished treatment and was declared in remission he rung the bell at the clinic. I cried tears of joy and celebrated  a fight well fought, a battle won.

In March our family went to hear my son’s band perform. It was so much fun to hear him. I was caught off guard by the response of the crowd though. I’m his mom, so of course I think he’s good, but when the crowd did too.  Wow! That was pretty cool! Although his major is music, his band is totally outside of campus studies so I had been apprehensive for the time he spent on it.  However, leaving the performance, I gave thanks. God helped me see a different side of my son.

In March (or maybe it was April – kind of blur) my daughter began dating. I wasn’t prepared for the amount of momma nerves that moved in. I was so excited for her because she was excited. We knew she had liked this guy for quite a while. I was fine during all the crush time, because I crushed big time on a guy from my high school. Crushes are from a distance. Nice and safe. Then they went from texting to talking on the phone and next thing we knew she was headed out the door with this really great guy to a movie (and then canoeing and then a walk in the park…) A few weeks later he asked my girl to his prom. They were precious. I didn’t have a date for prom, so… I was really (ok way over the top) excited for her. Even more excited when he had her home by 11:30 because he was leading the praise band the next morning at his dad’s church. Told you he was a great guy!

Thorntonville has been through quite a bit of transition this past school year. There have been definite changes in our lives. We are growing up! (sniffle, sniffle) We are learning from our trials and moving forward.

But now….

Bring on the summer vacation!!!

Friday Night

“And there was evening, and there was morning—the fifth day.” Genesis 1:23

Friday night. The weekend. There is just something so refreshing about those words. The promise of schedules relaxing, the potential for rest and refreshment added with the excitement of weekend adventure.

My husband walked in the door from work with the smell of red beans and rice wafting through our house. The crock pot meal created the fast but hearty food option we needed for a small adventure out for the evening. Changing into weekend clothes, we ate our meal and climbed into the “Golden Chariot” – our gold colored 2005 Chevy Trailblazer to head over to our son’s college town. His band was playing in a local venue and we were so excited to hear and see him.

Pretty clouds of pink brushed across the setting sun as we drove westward. We were all tired from the busy week we had just wrapped up so the ride over was quiet, except for Drew Holcomb on the car stereo.

We arrived to a crowded parking lot, paid the cover charge and entered the crowded space. My son played in the opening band as back up and then a couple of bands later his band had a slot. It was loud and I showed my age by pulling out my earplugs to help soften the sound a bit. Guitars, drums and a bass created rhythms I felt, let alone heard.

We ran into other friends who had made the drive over and talked. We also visited with many of my son’s friends. Then it was his turn. Stepping up the mic, came a confident crowd pleasing sound. The audience took motion as the songs played out to them. I couldn’t see my son, so I moved places, then through the crowd there he was, guitar in hands, mouth to the mic. I’ve seen him perform most of his life, but this was different. He was in his element. It made my momma heart soar.

I’m not sure of all his lyrics, but I was completely sure of his sound because the crowd cheered and sang along. Friday nights never sounded so good.

An Evening with My Girl

“Praise him for his mighty works; praise his unequaled greatness!”
Psalms 150:2

As we headed toward the Jennie Allen event at one of our local churches, my daughter and I were both worn down from the week we had just finished. Tired and a bit weary we parked and walked into the event I had been so eager to attend.

People were friendly. We found some seats, but missed the opportunity to sit with some of our good friends. The event was good, the music was fabulous and the gathering of 1200 women from our own community was incredible. We listened to the speakers, prayed for each other and those around us, plus, sang praise music.

When leaving we discussed the topics covered, how they related to us and how to implement them into our daily lives. Then came a moment of silence as we both reflected.

I asked my girl, what her favorite part of the evening was. Her answer surprised me. I had wanted to attend the event because the topic was so applicable to where I am at this point in my life. I also wanted to share a moment with my daughter. My girl had been a little unsure about what to expect, so when I asked her what her favorite part of the evening was I really expected her to say the speakers or how she loved listening to Ellie Holcomb (which she did!) However, her favorite part was when all 1200 women stood and sang, “How Great Thou Art.” She said, “Mom, I just thought about all the women in the room singing together and the words of the song. Then I thought about how happy that had to have made God.”

She teared up as she shared her thoughts with me. So did I. I knew in that moment she knew what true worship was. My momma heart swelled with thanksgiving to the God who created her. It was my biggest lesson of the evening and the most humbling. I attended the event focused on myself, while she went focused on God. I left still trying to figure things out. She left filled with the spirit.

“When Christ shall come, with shout of acclamation,
And take me home, what joy shall fill my heart.
Then I shall bow, in humble adoration,
And then proclaim: “My God, how great Thou art!”

Dinner: A Family Fellowship

“Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts,” – Acts 2:46

family-fellowship

Over Christmas break, while visiting family for a funeral, each night we ate together as one big family around a rustic large wooden dining table. It wasn’t the food that made this a warm memory (although the food was good); it was the conversation and limited distractions.  We were able to focus on each other. Meals were slow, stories were full, and laughter was abundant.

Traveling back home, my husband and I listened to Playing for Pizza by John Grisham on Audible. In the book a football player ends up playing for an Italian football league.  While in Italy he experienced the culture including the long meals filled with fellowship in the evenings. In learning to fellowship with others his character deepens.

Food. Fellowship. There is just something about them.

Last night as our family sat around our little kitchen table, I found myself wanting each conversation topic to linger. I forced a hold on the temptation to get up and start cleaning the dishes as soon as I stopped eating,  just so I could cherish the moment with my family. We shared about our day and then the guys started talking about music while the girls poked fun of the guy’s music selections. We laughed. We relaxed. We enjoyed each other’s company.

After dinner, we helped my son pack his car so he could head back to college. The meal time provided an amazing send off. Warm and filled with love.

Family dinners have always been important to us, but somewhere along the way we began to rush the process. Activities cut in, cell phones interfered, and adolescent years tested our emotions. Sitting at the table during Christmas break, though, my heart missed what we were capable of having. Togetherness. Fellowship provides togetherness. Thankfully, I realized we didn’t have to miss it.  We just needed to make it happen.

Tonight, even though my son was back at college, the three of us sat down to our table to eat unrushed. Cell phones put away, leisured conversation. We took our time, enjoyed the meal, and enjoyed each other. We talked about our day and then after cleaning up the dinner dishes sat down again to play a game. Each of us wanting to linger a little longer. It isn’t something we can do every evening, so it was special.  We are learning our time together is valuable.  We need each other.  Family fellowship is important.