Thursday, April 12, 2012

A Special Little Place

As we move into mid-April, I find myself rejuvenated.  I am not problem free, yet I no longer feel the heaviness that February brought me.  Spring has sprung in my heart again, and I am reminded of new life!

We just celebrated the resurrection of our Lord.  A beautiful, crisp Easter morning led into a breezy afternoon as we left the quaint, red-brick building my parents still call their home church.  What a glorious service, rejoicing with the believers of that little country baptist church!

This church isn't the grandest you will ever see.  But, this is a special little place to me.

This is the church where I grew up...where generations of my family attended...the place I met Jesus...the family that baptized me at ten years old...the moments I first experienced touches of the Holy Spirit...the classrooms I first heard of the accounts of heroes of faith...the altar I repented at...the building I learned to worship in with other believers...the sanctuary I said my earthly goodbyes to my grandmothers and my handicapped uncle...the stage where cousins and friends were married...the aisle I watched my Daddy walk down and surrender his heart to the Lord.

This is the place where my sons still go to VBS every year...even though they are getting too old!  This is the body of believers who know my boys and care about them...who have sown the love of Jesus into their hearts, expecting nothing in return, but hoping it impacts for eternity!

This is the place a lump forms in my throat as I hear familiar hymns bursting forth the words of Holy Scripture...where people see me from across many pews and come to hug me and welcome me "home."

My life has taken many turns since the days of my youth, but always when I return, I am reminded of all the people God has put on my path and where I was first rooted in His grace.

God hasn't called me back there as an adult, but I like to believe that He put all the best things of those who sowed into my life and shot me out of that quiver like an arrow to impact other places and people for His glory.  (Thanks for teaching me that Pastor Gregg Jackson!)

It's beautiful and wonderful and amazing to be part of the Body of Christ in this day.  To see the Lord drawing us all together, weeding out the lies, and grooming us until He returns for His Bride without spot or wrinkle.

I see the tide changing in church after church I either visit or have associations.  I can't help but notice the changing of hearts in believers everywhere...a change of love and acceptance, of dying to what they "just knew" was correct, only to find out the traditions of man are vastly different from the heart of God!

Grateful for where I've come from...excited about what is ahead!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

An Alex Funny You Won't Wanna Miss!

Sometimes I wish there were cameras around my house so I could go back and watch and write down all the hilarious moments of my day!

These boys God loaned me are definitely each their own person.  It is still so weird to me to sit back in moments and take in who they are becoming and what they look like.

How did their feet get so enormous?

Their little hand used to fit in mine and now my hand fits in theirs!

They carry things for me now, and they must sit down for me to trim their hair!

Who are these men-looking creatures cooking in my kitchen?

I feel like things are changing so quickly, and I just can't enjoy each day enough.

You can't help but wonder what all will change ya know?  What will they believe?  What will their priorities be?  How close will they be with one another...these ones who have been best friends their whole lives.  Will they want to come back home to visit us a lot?  Will they share their thoughts and feelings?

I crack up watching Alex and Trey fight over who gets to sleep with me when Dad is away or who gets to snuggle with me on the couch while I read school stuff.  They take up all the room now!  Today, Alex was literally laying on top of my back while I was reading and Trey had to pull the ottoman up next to the couch and curl his way in beside me...but heaven help us if one of them touches the other!  

It's hilarious to watch!

Garrison isn't much different.  He doesn't fight with them over me, but when they go out to play, here he comes to sit with me and literally says, "Hold me Momma!"  He says it jokingly, but he sure plops right down and doesn't move!  

I love it.  I love every minute I get to be with them...even when they are driving me crazy!!!  There is NOTHING I would rather be doing than spending these days of their life with them.

And wow...we make all kinds of discoveries.  Today it was the epiphany Trey had..."I think I just don't think most of the time!"  In my head..."UH YEP, GOT THAT RIGHT KIDDO!" as I think back to earlier in the day when he told two older boys at band class that he couldn't go into the other room with them because his mom thinks they are bad influences!  Great!  Thanks Trey!  (Yes, it DID get a mom a bit freaked out, and no, that is not what was said to Trey two weeks ago when they were throwing a ball in the church.  It was, "You better make sure you make good choices even with others are influencing you to do bad things.")

Then I thought about the THREE times I had to stop him from running in the parking lot and not watching for cars this morning!  Oi!  Yes, Trey is still in need of some more thinking!  


Or how about while we were at Wendy's having lunch with some friends.  I had let the boys get an ice cream already, but Alex came to ask if he could go buy one.  I said, "Did the lady not give you yours?"  "Oh she did, but I would like another one."  "Really?  Well, what do think God would want you to do to take care of your body?"  "I think He would say go ahead because if it kills you then you get to go to Heaven!  It's really a win-win situation!"  My sweet friend Annette tried not to laugh, but when he walked away I had to confess that this is exactly the kind of stuff my mom had to put up with!  Mercy sakes, the child acts just like me sometimes!  (Thank you for putting up with me Mom!!!)

And then there was Alex's BIG lesson, which is gonna crack you up so if you have, some umm bladder issues, you may wanna take care of that before you proceed!

Okay, so...Trey laid his head on my stomach while I was reading and sat up all of a sudden and said, "Uh...I think Mom is pregnant because I think I just heard a baby in there!"  (Have mercy!!!)  Alex responded, "Nope that can't be possible Trey because Dad had a busectomy and he doesn't have testicles anymore!"

Of course Garrison and I lost it!!!  For real...I couldn't control it.  I laughed til I cried!  Finally, I said, "Alex, that's not exactly how it works buddy."  His reply?  "Well that's what happens to dogs!"  

I did call Tom to let him thank me for setting Alex straight before he shared with anyone that his dad didn't have all his parts anymore!  HAAAAAAAAA!  (I'm laughing all over again!)

Oh so many moments like this in my day friends!  I have to be more faithful to write them down!  These are things they can read years from now and relish.

I so desperately want them to know what they were like and what their parents were like.  I never want them to question how much they were wanted or loved...and how blessed they were to have family life as they know it!

My heart is so full of thankfulness! 

Training Hearts for Integrity

I've been trying my best to stay in the game lately.  I had a really bad run with my neck causing migraines.  Most weeks my incredibly helpful and wonderfully considerate hubby is gone at least 3 or 4 days and it's just me running this show.  It's not easy...especially when you are experiencing that much pain physically.  I find myself praying for my sons memories...that all the good times outweigh all the times I am in bed with an ice pack!

Thankfully, I have also had some very productive days too though.  I feel like we are gaining good momentum in our math trials finally.  I have been diligent about making sure learning is happening in many ways, but realizing I have allowed too much to take precedence over the Word of God...the source of true wisdom.  So, we are refocusing yet again.

What drew my attention to this is the attitudes and words my boys were slinging at one another.  I can always tell when I've dropped the ball!  It's easy to do when you are being a single parent, trying to keep up with everything.  It's so easy to let the T.V. entertain them!

It's hard being here with them alone a lot.  It's hard hearing questions and needs and disputes and rowdy play all day long.  It's hard to be a female and try to teach males to be males! And, it's really hard to be a girly-girl surrounded by BOY!

I've had a lot of worrisome thoughts battling in my mind about Garrison and high school.  I can't believe we are at this point, and everything from here on out really counts and must be recorded correctly.  No more trying out different teaching/learning methods and materials.  We need a plan.  We need God's plan...His perfect plan for Garrison.

Tom and I spent last weekend at a homeschool convention. I wish every parent could attend some of the teachings there...whether they homeschool or not.  It's just good advice, and I always leave feeling refreshed and reminded of what life is really about.  I don't want to get lost in trying to mimic the public school system or secular humanistic ways.  I want our priorities straight!

I've started praying for my husband to be able to have a job that will allow him to be with us more.  We miss him.  So thankful for the job he has and that he enjoys it, but we want him home. I NEED HIM!

It's so sad to think of how far the American family unit has drifted...how everyone is entertained separately by their media devices, running in all directions and knowing so little about one another.

That's not my family.  I am just not going to succumb to what society calls normal now.  I believe in setting a standard, preparing your children for it, and sticking to it.  

We have certain things we have been sharing with our sons for years...things like, we will not support you dating a bunch of different girls.  God never meant for you to "try out" people and end up fragmented or cause others to be.  If we had waited until they were teens to spring this on them, we would have been met with much opposition of course.  Thankfully, God spoke to our hearts when they were very young and now they are embracing these standards for themselves.  

Does that mean they like it?  Does it always feel good to their flesh?  No way; they are human!  But they are seeing the joy that comes in holding out for something better.  They have seen the hurt that using other people for moments of pleasure can bring.

We also have told them that they won't be spending every weekend away from home as they get older.  It's not God's way and watching others around us has shown just how detrimental that is for children and families in the long run.  

We are very, very picky and cautious about who our children spend time with and who influences them.  We don't allow many sleepovers away from home outside our family and very close friends.  There is just no need for it, and we know about too much that has happened in those activities.

Are my boys bitter toward us for this?  Thankfully, no.  Again, because it has been talked about WITH them and not thrown AT them, they have come to see and embrace the reasons as their own.  Sometimes it bums them out, but they know that we are not trying to withhold anything from them, only give them the very best and set them up for true success later.

It's hard being a parent.  It's hard standing against the status quo.  It's hard watching our children feel sad and answering all the questions that come at us by those who don't agree with our choices.  It's hard facing the judgments of others and even hearing our children be made fun of...but I will continue to tell my guys that I never want them to "fit in."

I want them to be godly young men of integrity who stand up and stand out.  I want them to be the guys every father has their eye on as best potential son-in-law...men of integrity who will be worthy of that father's pride and joy...his little princess.

I'm just not willing to settle on this.  I'm not willing to accept the lie that all teenagers have to be rebellious or hard to deal with or egocentric!  I have had the pleasure of meeting several young people who are not that way at all.  I know young people who are sold out to God and not living for themselves!

The path of integrity is not easy.  Many times it is not fun.  Most of the time it requires the laying down of your flesh and what you want for the betterment of another.  

I'm so thankful God got a hold on my heart in time to change my priorities as a mother.  I am forever grateful that my little men already have more convictions than most adults I know.  This journey won't be peaches and cream for them, but I know they can stick to the path God has set their feet upon.  I know they can be men who stand for righteousness in their generation and be led by true wisdom which began with their fear of the Lord.

The academics will get taken care of, but training their hearts is of far greater importance.

So, how do you protect and train your children's hearts?  If your children are grown, tell me what you did that helped or hurt.  What standards did you/have you set for your family?  Or which ones do you plan to set as your babies grow up?