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

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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.

That is Just Where I Am.

“Dear brothers and sisters, I close my letter with these last words: Be joyful. Grow to maturity. Encourage each other. Live in harmony and peace. The God of love and peace will be with you.” 2 Corinthians 13:11-14

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Today, like yesterday, I’m struggling with my attitude. Sometimes, I feel like Eeyore trying to help out, but slowly walking around dragging my grey cloud with me everywhere I go. It’s been a few weeks since I sat to tap the keys on my laptop. It isn’t that I haven’t had anything to say, it’s that I just didn’t want to say it. So here is where I am. There are blessings from each random paragraph written below. God is doing good things, so why so sad?  Sometimes, I guess even good things bring on unexpected emotion.

About a month ago we received news that my dad had cancer. The blessing is that it is a treatable form of cancer and we live in a country where healthcare is available. Although I immediately prayed for him, with him and family, I still worried. This past Monday the radiation treatment schedule was set and slowly my worry released. A plan of action was created, my need to do something subsided.

Today is my son’s birthday. That’s a celebration. He made it to nineteen. An amazing young man who stands up for what he believes in. However, this birthday is a first. The first one he hasn’t woken to my singing loudly the birthday song with my lovely morning voice. I woke up at three this morning instead to send him a text recounting the time he came into our lives. Then shed a tear despite the happy moment because I missed the tradition of waking him up with singing. New tradition formed. Not quite as thrilling as singing, but still an effective birthday greeting. I’m sure he will read it when he wakes in his dorm.

Two weeks ago my daughter passed her driver’s test. Milestone moment. Sixteen, excited and lovely as can be, she now drives herself to school in the mornings, home in the afternoons, as well as, carpools friends to coffee. I was so excited and caught up in the thrill for her new found freedom, until the first morning I didn’t get to drive her to school. I felt out of a job. (Yes, I’m being dramatic –I’m still her mom, but let me have my moment, please!) I missed our conversations. It is a joy to have her driving, but an unexpected loss, too. It is the first time in nineteen years I’m driving solo. I have cherished every moment with her and my son in the car. (Ok, maybe not the times they threw up.)

Advent. Yeah, yeah, it’s Christmas season. Bah humbug.

Truth is – I love Advent, but I despise the race of the holidays. I enjoy worship services, decorating, Christmas lights, and eating other people’s baked goods, but man, I am the most insecure gift giver on the planet. Shopping is what my version of hell looks like.  Easter far trumps Christmas in my eyes. There. I said it. Feeling better already. I’m attempting a Christmas prayer journal by Darlene Schacht (Time-Warp Wife Ministries) called Quieting Your Heart for the Holidays, along with Ann Voskamp’s The Greatest Gift devotional to try to change my perspective. I’ll let you know how it goes.

That’s where I am at the moment. So… I was a bit surprised when I sat down to write this morning and prayed for a scripture that God answered me with, “Dear brothers and sisters, I close my letter with these last words: Be joyful. Grow to maturity. Encourage each other. Live in harmony and peace. The God of love and peace will be with you.” 2 Corinthians 13:11-14

“Why 2 Corinthians 13:11-14?” I asked.

Honestly, I think I know the answer. God is saying yes there are lots of emotional, good and bad swings during this season, but stay the course.

The holidays are often a fight for me to expel and rebel against unrealistic expectations. I tend to get lost in the battle. This year life is exploding around me with new experiences like a kid in his first year of college and another learning to stretch her wings in a car, all while dealing with the difficulty of praying my dad through cancer. I don’t want to worry about shopping. It is the last thing I want to deal with.

God, however, isn’t asking me to take on shopping. He is asking me to do what he asks the rest of the year. Be joyful through the easy and the difficult. Keep walking with Him, so He can grow me into maturity. He’s giving me instructions to continue my work by blessing others, regardless of the hypothetical grey cloud dampening my attitude. He’s saying, “Persevere, Kysia. Celebrate the moments and submit the struggles. Allow My love to penetrate your spirit so peace can permeate your heart and mind.”

God is trying to get me to peace.  Peace.  The very spirit of Christmas.

Why 2 Corinthians 13:11-14?

Because that’s what I needed to hear. That is just where I am.

So She Did

“And kill the calf we have been fattening.  We must celebrate with a feast,” Luke 15:23 NLT

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This past Monday my daughter came home sharing how she and her friends didn’t have plans for their school’s Homecoming event.  They wanted to go to the dance, but weren’t sure about dinner or what to do afterwards. The last three years my girl has watched as her brother and his girlfriend attended dances with dinner parties and after dance bonfires.  She hungered for plans of her own, so I said, “Then plan some.”

So she did.

By Thursday she had invited a small group to dine in our backyard.  I was proud of her for being bold and initiating action.  Then she handed me the menu, telling me, “I took it easy on you, Mom.”  I smiled, looking at the menu, because she had.  The list included an Olive Garden mock salad, her Dad’s risotto, picking up a rotisserie chicken from the local grocery store and some crusty bread with iced tea and lemon water. A great entertaining meal for a short on time kind of day.

Then she then began to plan the decorations and table setting. Trying to keep things simple, she used linens and candles we already owned.  We worked together creating a Homecoming sign for the fence.

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Homecoming night came.  Her friends arrived thrilled by the extra touches and opportunity to be invited.  They enjoyed the meal sharing conversation amongst themselves.  My favorite part was listening to the laughter from the backyard.

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With smiles and full tummies we piled everyone into the car to head to the dance.  After dropping her and her friends off, I told her to have a good time.

…so she did.

 

Things We Learned While Applying to Colleges

“But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on the wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.” Isaiah 40:31

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The following is a list of things that helped us while looking at colleges with our son and wading through scholarships and financial aid. They aren’t laws or rules by any means. Just steps that made the journey a little easier.

Pray for God to meet your needs and beyond. Pray continuously. Ask God to show you and your child the most effective ways to make it through the system. He will guide you. Pick a verse for the process if it helps to keep your perspective. God is ultimately in charge and you deeply desire the best for your child, as does God.

Start looking for colleges early – as in junior year. No, you may not get school days off for it, but it is the best way. It is too much to do everything senior year. Plus, all the colleges we visited said junior year was the time to visit.  Senior year is the time to make the final decisions and apply.

  • Ask your child a few questions when selecting a college: What’s most important to them in a college? What they study? Close to home? Size of college?  Visit different sized colleges.  Your student may fit in to a different setting than you might realize.  Only visiting the campuses can you really get a feel for that.
  • Tour campuses, look at housing options, and ask questions on financial aid.

Apply to college early in senior year (August – October). Many scholarships by spring are no longer available.

Apply to more than one school. See what scholarships and financial aid are available. Private schools are usually more expensive  – but don’t count them out. In our experience, they have more scholarships than state schools in larger amounts, often along with work programs to aid with finances.

Keep a folder (or group of folders) for collecting college information. Include a copy of a transcript and Doctor’s physical (dorms and student housing). Make sure shots are up to date.

Keep a list of all service and volunteer hours. Church volunteer hours count.

Keep a list of all leadership opportunities served during the last four years.

Make a list of academic and reputable people who know your child that your child could ask for references. Ask them to save a copy of  their reference letter on their computer, so it can be used a couple of times for different scholarships. Suggestions might be pastors, mentors, bosses, neighbors, people served with on mission trips…

Give teachers time to write references. Especially in the spring when they are writing hundreds of them. Have your child be very gracious and say thank you.

 Find the scholarship lists on line.  There is an app called Scholly that keeps an ongoing list, plus there are others (scholarship.com; unigo.com are both good sites).

Have your student take the ACT and SAT. Start getting them used to it by taking it first even as early as sophomore or freshman year. Use a study aid or take a prep class, if possible  We used guides we bought off Amazon. Boys tend to do better on the SAT. It’s crazy how much financial aid from Universities are based on these scores.

There are scholarships out there. Most are about $500 – $1000 apiece. Pick and choose based on your child’s skill. My son was good at writing and music. Those are what we went for. Get in the habit of your student completing a few a month. With senior schedules it can be difficult to do more. Some can even be completed before senior year. Filling out forms and writing essays will help your student get used to the process. Plus, it keeps them from procrastinating.

Start with the Coca – Cola scholarship. It is a need and leadership based scholarship. It is the most thorough and comprehensive one EVER. When you have completed it – send in and PRINT off for your files. Most of the information you need for any other scholarships will be in that form.

Make a point to learn how your high school counselors operate. Have your child get used to going in and asking questions. If a scholarship needs a counselor’s verification and you attend a large high school, give them at least two weeks to sign their name to verify your student attends. If they need something more- make sure your student speaks to your counselor directly so forms don’t get lost in the process and the counselor can put a face to the form. Prepare ahead of time to ask for transcripts. Like when you start to work on a scholarship that requires one.

FAFSA –  FAFSA laws have changed. The FAFSA can now be filled out starting October 1st instead of having to wait until January. This year you can use last years (2015) tax return.  Do your research now.  FAFSA is very important.

Senior year is a crazy fast year. Spend time with your child. Help them get organized. With all that is going on, it is so overwhelming for them to do it by themselves. Set up monthly meetings on all this stuff over coffee or ice cream. Do what you can to make this as fun as possible, treating them with respect and love.

Hope this helps!

 

 

 

 

One Thing Remains

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“You shall teach [God’s words] diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. Deuteronomy 6:7

This past Sunday, I stopped in the middle of worship and began to cry. Instead of an encounter with Christ, I was having a mommy moment. I kept looking up on stage at my son as he played in the worship band. He leaves for college soon and will be looking for a new church home. While the band played the chorus to “One Thing Remains”, my eyes filled with tears at the realization my son wouldn’t be on that stage for a while and the chair a couple of seats down was about to be vacant. Then the sadness subsided because a bigger reassurance came. Thankfulness for all the years, I’ve been able to worship God with him.

I remember the first church service he attended with my husband and me. He was five. Our church had started a new policy that as children started school they were to join their parents in the pew instead of going to the nursery. Each parent received a copy of Parenting in the Pew by Robbie Castleman to help them through their transition. At the time I was disappointed in the new church rule. Church was a time as a parent I could sit still, focus on worship, and breathe. I didn’t feel ready to train my son for worship, let alone take him to the bathroom every five minutes. Regardless of how I felt, we marched in our first Sunday as three, my son, my husband and me.   We allowed my son to choose the seat and he led us all the way down to the front pew in the Traditional service at our church. He wiggled, became board, and turned to look at the people behind us before finally settling in while asking us if it was time to go yet during the middle of prayer.

It took time for my son to adjust to church, but it happened. A few years later his little sister joined us. By then we had moved pews. We claimed the second pew instead of the first. Sunday after Sunday, same pew. We gradually got to know the people around us and visitors who would come. At the front, we always felt part of the action observing every musician, as well as, reading the lips of the pastor speaking.

Slowly, each of my children took on the responsibilities of acolytes and helping with communion, becoming part of the service. Then when my son began high school he was asked to join the adult worship team to play bass. He had played guitar for the two previous years in the youth worship band on Sunday evenings. With this new opportunity, our family switched to the Contemporary service so we could keep worshipping together.

Which brings us to now. His last Sunday with us for awhile. Yes, I am sad he won’t be two seats down from me during the sermon each week, but there is another part of me that celebrates this moment for what it is. As parents my husband and I have tried to teach our son about Jesus at home through spiritual disciplines, such as prayer, fasting and Bible study. We’ve also encouraged worship corporately by attending and staying involved in a church. He knows our faith is important to us. Now it is his turn to make steps of faith towards his decision to follow Christ. Now it is between God and him.

We will continue to love and encourage him with every step beginning on our knees in prayer. This moment, though, is a sacred moment of releasing our son into the hands of our Savior for his next steps to be taken without us as he moves forward into manhood hopefully deepening his own relationship with Christ. With an “I love you”, a hug, and prayer, one last thing remains. As he steps into his next part of life without us leading, we trust God to lead patiently calling our son’s name to Him through triumphs and trials. Just like He did with us when we were starting out.  The God of heaven who woos me is the same God  who woos my son.  I’m so very grateful for this moment and all the ones that led to it.

“Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6