Saturday, July 26, 2014

So It's Like This, Ya See

Are you a parent? If not, than have you ever had administrative authority over others? Taught a class? Led a program? Then you will understand what I am trying to say. I'm a history teacher, which entails teaching about culture and interaction of people. History is not just a list of events. It is a series of unique and amazing stories about people. Even when we are looking at the conflicts between countries, we are looking at the conflict between two groups organized by PEOPLE.

So back to the parent thing. You're a people, right? Good. Now that we have that mutual understanding, let's talk about typical human behavior. People covet. People are tempted. People are tested in work ethic. People are lustful. People are gluttonous. People are jealous. People are never satisfied. In the world of parenting, we are in the business of raising little people and let me tell ya, it is far greater in magnitude to embrace all of these challenges in such a confined capacity. For example, at our house jealousy is something that is a constant struggle for my littlest one. Everything that the oldest one does, says, receives, spends, eats, or whatever, the littlest wants the same.

Now, are there times in this battle that I have been fighting for over six years that I choose to not handle this error in thinking with proper parenting? Uh, yeah! There are probably more days than I want to admit. The extracurricular activities chosen by the girls are similar, but in my heart, I am not sure they should be. What they want for breakfast is the same, even though really it is not. Many a mornings the youngest will request cereal because the oldest has done so. And many a mornings I fuss at her because she doesn't finish the bowl and wastes food knowing that she was not going to actually eat it. I could have handled my reaction to her words differently, but I didn't. What should I have done? I should have gently reminded her before I even poured the bowl of cereal that she is not a fan of this dish and that there are many other tasty options that will satisfy her appetite more adequately. Instead, I just go with the flow and fix the bowl and soak it with milk, all the while knowing what will happen.

Are there times where you just choose to ignore behavior because you don't have time to parent? Or better yet, are their moments when you realize that a behavior has developed as a result of your neglect? Your child is acting a certain way because of an extended period of time of your preoccupied lifestyle or exhaustion? Yeah. Yuck! It makes you frustrated with yourself, doesn't it? And sometimes instead of going back and seeking to begin to discipline and guide your child into a correct behavior, you jerk them through a keyhole and exhibit your frustration with them through harsh words or actions.


You continue to operate in a world of denial and shrug your shoulders in surrender.

Err go, the USA. You see, we are a group of people, you know those coveting jealous, lustful, gluttonous, and never satisfied group of people. We are very spoiled and well taken care of by our parents - the government. Don't you roll your eyes at me. Go SOMEWHERE, ANYWHERE else and observe the operation of people with their government in another location.

Our parents have let us stay up past bed time for way too long. Our parents have allowed us to eat just one more cookie, sometimes 3-4, after we didn't eat everything on our plate. Our parents have found exhaustion in repetitious discipline and holding to their word when they issue a warning; therefore, they have ignored disobedience. Our parents have been trying to be our friends instead of being our parents.

A good parent teaches the value of hard work and self-discipline. This means that a good parent would teach that I will give you a band aid to put on that wound, but that wound will heal. When that wound heals, a good parent will encourage their child to get back out on the field and play ball. Better yet, they will encourage them to play with the band aid on their knee so that the child may learn that even when things are challenging, they do possess the power to overcome the challenge and succeed. A good parent uses chores to teach their child that all are responsible for the well-being of the home and the well-being of their family. A good parent sees the coveting brewing in their child's eyes and begins to proactively redirect that energy and assist their child in awareness of how they are blessed with exactly what they have instead of constantly appeasing the jealous wishes...constantly giving in and letting them have their way.

Our nation is in a period of upbringing where the parents have ignored their responsibilities for too long and as a result, we are a nation of unruly children. We have to make laws and regulations in reaction instead of proactively. We are giving in to jealousy and whining instead of standing firm in the original discipline that we first established and tirelessly enforced. We are a dysfunctional home to say the least, but the efforts being made to keep the home secure and unified are far from beneficial.

For example, our immigration issue that is of constant bickering and opinion tossing is a great example of lazy parenting. For years we have let our borders become less and less secure, and therefore, the protocol by which we expect people to adhere to in order to gain establishment within our borders is ignored. We have MILLIONS of illegal immigrants, but that is another people issue I will touch on in a moment. Now, let me paint this picture to you back in parent mode. For years, we have been letting one child get away with not following the rules and have been ignoring it because we are too preoccupied with other matters (war with nations on the other side of the globe, a dysfunctional economy, LGBT agendas, healthcare, etc.) As we continue to ignore, the behavior continues to worsen. Children do this too. If they get candy out of the candy jar and you do not catch them, than they will do it again. If they get candy out of the candy jar, and you see them and SAY NOTHING, than you better believe they are going to do it again. Why wouldn't they? It's CANDY!
Don't forget our nation is completely made up of IMMIGRANTS. Not one family can claim that their ancestors did not come from somewhere else (aside from our Native Americans). So the children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren of the first few generations were required to adhere to certain rules and regulations in order to be a part of this family. The citizenship process has been respected and obeyed by many generations of immigrants that chose to come to this great land. In other words, there are children in our family who obeyed the rules and cleaned their plate and asked permission to get candy from the candy jar before they just took. They respected the parents... (DON'T MISS THIS) because their parents demanded it. Now we are in a place where there is an absence of fairness. The parents are not exhibiting the same expectations of the younger children. In fact, the younger children are not only getting CANDY for free, the parents are contemplating how they will allow them to continue to get CANDY for free and eventually "gently" move them into a placement in the family where they are doing chores and contributing to the whole. All of the grumblings being made are the children who are mad about this breaking of the rules with no punishment.
Ah, but check this out. These same complainers are also a part of some of the movements to make it less difficult for struggling students to make the grade (oh, another day). They are a part of the movements to create a raise in wages and treatment of workers for equality. They are a part of the movements to keep the parents from having too much control over their decisions in various aspects - money, healthcare, marriage, etc. We want the government to just manage, not micromanage - well some of us. I will tell you what I think the government should and shouldn't do another day. Meanwhile, have you ever looked at the requirements to becoming a citizen? They are extensive and complicated. I'm not gonna lie to you. I would look at them with despair and discouragement.

You know how your parents wanted you to keep your room clean and make your bed and all that junk. Did you have parents who reminded you daily or parents who reminded you only when it was time to go to a party? "You can go, after you clean your room and make your bed!" Yes, there are some of you that were model children and you only had to be told once to do this particular chore. Then there are those of you who probably have small rodents living under your bed from all the crap you crammed under there every Friday night. Personal rant - I COULDN'T CRAM STUFF UNDER MY BED BECAUSE I HAD A DAYBED WITH A TRUNDLE!!! Whose fault is that? MINE, because I asked for that kind of bed. When our parents are not reminding us daily of the rules, we, as those people creatures I described earlier, tend to see just how far we can go. Then our parents find great frustration with our lack of obedience and arrive at the challenges of having to go back to the foundation of the discipline and, let me tell ya, IT IS HARDER THAN YOU THINK. Because it is frustrating and hard, it sometimes brings out the wrong response and wrong emotion of the parent.

Now we have over 11 million non-citizens living in our country that we are trying to figure out what to do with as they have not followed the rules expected of the older children AND they are getting most, if not more, of the same perks that the other children are getting. Oh, and they are not contributing to the chore list (not paying taxes).
Perspective check - if you could get candy without getting in trouble, would you? DON'T YOU LIE. You would. Statistic check - the current minimum wage in the United States is $7.25/hour. THE AVERAGE DAILY INCOME OF THE REST OF THE WORLD IS $2.00/DAY. If you were looking at the possibility of making 3 1/2 times what you make in a day in the time constraint of 1 hour, wouldn't you try to go to that place as well? They come for the candy. You were just lucky to be born in the house where the candy is.

Now what? Well, I shall tell you only what I know. You have this new perspective to look at on how we have gotten to this great problem. Oh, and this is only ONE of the problems with our parenting that has been going on for the past century. Just like any adequate solution, we cannot just come up with a temporary fix. We have to go back to where the problem began and fix the break in communication, break in discipline. AND we have to be proactive for future issues THAT WILL come up. AND we have to decipher the most logical solution for those benefiting from the candy now. Any solution is going to be costly - VERY COSTLY, but unfortunately this is a cost that must be made. You can put off some things for only so long. How much longer will we put it off?

Thursday, July 24, 2014

City Girl

I cannot say that I am a city girl. I cannot say that I have not spent a larger portion of my life amongst nonstop pavement, constant illumination, and mass-produced shopping potential. I cannot say that I am immune to deer in my yard. I cannot say that I do not know life with well-water. I cannot say that I have always enjoyed the luxury of high-speed internet or even cable TV.

Yet, as I have returned to an environment where we are back to the exact same set-up of my youth, quiet and distance from the chaos, I am finding myself a city-girl in ways that almost annoy me. Now some adjustments I am making quite well. For example, we have well water now as we did in our very first little home together when we got married so long ago. I must say, that well water is truly not that bad. It is hard water and therefore I had to remind myself that my hair needs some extra loving when it comes to conditioning. However, we are lucky in that it doesn’t taste bad and it has not changed the color of my whites, nor have we really experienced any problem with overuse. Our past experience has much to do with some of these appreciations. It is way not cool to run a well dry. It is also no fun to watch your whites turn a shade of yellow. For those of you that are city folk, well water is not filtered. It is as natural as it comes…straight out of the ground. To be more direct, it comes STRAIGHT out of the ground bringing whatever wonderful mineral or residue is found in its reservoir with it as it flows into your pipes. Both of my parents remember having orange clothes from the sulfur that was in their well water. Didn’t know you had that little perk to be thankful for did ya?

Now septic tanks, that’s another beast…literally. In fact, I guess it was probably our second house that we lived in in Texas before I realized that they did not have septic tanks in the city. City friends, this is the countryman’s sewer. They deserve a certain respect and care in their usage.

Field mice. Yep, a tad more frequent when you say, LIVE IN A FIELD. We had them all my life. As a child, I just knew where to not step in our home lest I get my toe broken from a baited trap. We even had them in my “city” apartment in Birmingham. Ok, really he was a rat. Oh that rat deserves another post all to himself. We had mice in our first house as a married couple and that, too, deserves its own post. There is nothing like the pungent odor of decaying animal. Yep, still get a whiff of it every now and then and am provoked to vomit just a little in my mouth. We are back to the country, and back to battling the little mice. They are just another pest like spiders and ants. It just is. Having to remind myself to remind guests of the traps and bait so their little ones will not encounter them.

We have less busy roads. We have fewer lights to allow us to see the stars. We have space between neighbors. We have exposure to more of nature. We have so much, but yet I find myself still letting my appreciation of these advantages wane.

Here is where the city girl is bothering me. When I was little, I would run through our pastures barefoot and have not a care in the world. This go around, I find myself becoming so irritated with bugs that it puts me in a mood of foulness. So ugly that I find myself repentant of the furrowed brow I carry. Bugs, I know God made you. I know that God has a purpose for your presence here on this earth. He is the almighty artist and designator of each intricate aspect of this world. But why red wasps, God? These are things that we will have a good talk about when I get there. Why sweat bees? Why wasps in general? Aren’t regular stinging bees and yellow jackets enough? And why mosquitos? Oh, my entire family – especially the girls – cry out to the Lord Most High, why is there a secret attacker in the yard that does nothing but take our blood and threaten to give us something named Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever? Just a few weeks ago, I counted a total of 50 – FIFTY!!!! – mosquito bites on my body alone. Is your brow starting to furrow too? I KNOW!

You see, what makes me finally smile after I repent of my carrying on about the existence of these nuisances, is that God is giggling at me. I know that God is watching as I am swatting at the air like a ninja warrior and these little bitty bugs are able to navigate away from my supposed coordination. How do they do that? How do they move so much faster and even know that my rolled up newspaper is coming? I think God tells them so they know to dart the other direction at just the right moment and then He laughs and laughs and laughs.

When I was little, I played through the mosquito bites; and yes, they were just as bad then. When I was little, I told my daddy there were wasps in my swing set and he sprayed them down with his magical poison and life goes on. When I was little, I found it a challenge and game to try to chase down the bug that was dodging me. Sometimes I would even catch them in a cup and torture them before killing them. Gasp! Yep. I was one of those kids. But I refused to let them deter me from missing out on all the other amazing things God had to reveal to me. I would go out at night and lie down on our driveway and look at the stars…all the while being nibbled by mosquitos. An hour or more before that, I was outside catching lightening bugs, right along with those mosquitos. They do not sleep. I would literally run through the field when it had high grass and let the grass fleas jump on me, but I was reenacting some great movie scene in my head of some hero and princess running to one another, so those bugs didn’t even faze me. I would come in at night and my mother would lay me on a towel and rub that ugly yet soothing pink lotion on all my bites with a Q-tip. I don’t know what is in that stuff, but it is so awesome.

What is wrong with me? I spend the majority of my day with 2 versions of little me and yet I cannot channel that inner little girl. I vow today to find that little girl again. This must change. If I can handle the well water management and the septic-tank respect, what are little bugs? As I write this, I find embarrassment in the admittance that I allow such creatures to take away my love of the outdoors. For when we do sit out on our porch during any hour of the day, I am lost in the beauty of it all. To watch the deer and the fawn quietly walk across the field. To listen to the frogs grow louder and louder with the oncoming darkness. To watch the birds hop around in the yard looking for food and supplies for their nest. I can’t miss that! Nor can I allow my kids to miss it before it’s too late. I don’t want them to be the unsure city girl. I want them to run with liberation knowing that they are strong enough to overcome and endure little things. The bigger things will come, and if they can’t handle little struggles, than big challenges will be crippling and destructive. I vow today to take my magical spray and make the wasps go away so we can play. I vow today to let the grass fleas bounce off of our citronella skin and the bumble bee to hover around the clover at our feet. I vow today to be OK with smelling like Off for the day so the mosquitos won’t give us some unbearable coating of bites. And if they do break through, than I will get the Q-tip and the pink lotion so we can all sleep through the night and be rested just enough to get out there and build our fort, swing on our swing, ride our bike, run to our beau, and conquer the world once more.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Do You Really Need to Know?

“Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” Isaiah 40:28-31

Let me rewrite it with proper emphasis so you can really get it.

Do you not KNOW? Have you not (already) HEARD? (Because, if I remember correctly, you have heard and you do know better.) The Lord is the EVERLASTING God, the CREATOR of the ends of the earth. He will NOT grow tired or weary, and his understanding NO ONE can fathom. (It is impossible for a created being to use the restricted knowledge of time and space that it is granted to begin to explain the Creator or the Creator’s master design.) He gives STRENGTH to the weary and INCREASES the power of the weak. Even YOUTHS grow tired and weary, and YOUNG men stumble and fall; but those who HOPE (wait) in the Lord will renew their STRENGTH. They will SOAR on wings like eagles; they will RUN and NOT grow weary, they will WALK and not be faint.”

Don’t you get it? God was Lord over all creation in the beginning, He is Lord over all creation NOW and He will still be on His throne long after we have stopped walking the surface of this created orbiting object. That is something that I feel that man has arrogantly tried to explain. This need to understand the actual beginning of the world, the beginning of the universe and to predict the conclusion of such is nothing more than a flexing of academic muscles that are injected with infection steroids of theoretical GUESSES. Now don’t get me wrong. I like to know things. I like to study things. I like to know the origin of things. I LOVE HISTORY. I know we are living someone else’s history even at this moment. Yet there are some things that we do not have to know – really. I know that a large percentage of the population just gasped. Why? Why would you not want to know?

Why do you need to know things to begin with? It is because the knowledge of all of the elements surrounding a situation gives us comfort. Think about it. It is why we ask the word, “why?” How much tension releases from your body when you have an answer to your why. To be able to come to a peace with the truth that His understanding is not for us to be able to fathom, that is the pinnacle of peace. However, we must also understand that once we arrive at that peace, all the answers of the world will not fall into our lap. The next step is arriving at trusting that even with things unknown, the EVERLASTING God is OUR God and will provide for us. He will strengthen us when we are weary. He will increase our power when we are weak. I think the emphasis on increases in that sentence is important, for God NEVER leaves us. In our weakest state, we still have power. We have Him. He simply increases our power in times of despair. We must trust though. If we try to strengthen ourselves with our own efforts, it will only cause greater fatigue and exhaustion.

The passage points out that even youth grow tired and trip up. It has been pointed out to me on numerous occasions the enormous amount of energy that my children have. All adults notice that at some point – the vast difference in energy between young and old. Isaiah is continuing to point out that even those with the greatest resolve will finally collapse. It is your choice as to whom you are going to collapse in the arms of.

Hope is defined as a wanting for something to happen or for something to be true. Isaiah says that those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. Too often our “hope” is found in man or creation of man. And that, my friend, is why so many of us find ourselves in a spirit of disappointment. Man cannot provide for us. Man cannot sustain us. Man cannot renew our strength. Man is our equal.

God can use man and manmade things to assist us in strengthening and running and soaring. Our awareness of that is crucial, though. You can do nothing outside of the power of your creator. Nothing. You are but a moment in time. You will have disappointment. You will have weakness. It is up to you to decide how to process and handle that. Do you trust that the Lord is Lord over all creation? Do you trust that the Lord wants to bless you and use you in mighty ways? Do you find your comfort in Him or in created things?

Our family seems to roller coaster through challenges and obstacles. I know that we are probably no different than really any other family, but I am aware that we are experiencing moments of weariness and moments of weakness in order to get a better grip on His hand (His wing) so that on the backside of this event we will soar. To soar takes on many different images. Make sure that you are not taking for granted your moments in the sky. Make sure that you see His hand moving. Impatience blurs the vision. Trusting in the world creates disappointment and despair.

Hope in the Lord for your strength will surprise you and your vision will become very clear. Once your vision is clear and your strength is renewed, get ready to walk, run and fly for the Lord will use you and move you and move mountains through you. Oh to be in a world full of hope again! I long for that day. Join me in this hope and the contagious spirit will spread.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Why We Go - Child #2

Emma Reagan Powell came into this world with complete unpredictable means. She was a month early and decided to scare us two times before making her vocal debut in Fort Worth, Texas. You may remember from previous posts, Jeremy and I were told that it was a strong possibility we would be unable to have children through natural means. We both have medical conditions that tend to provide complications with conception. So the very idea that God decided to grant us the honor to have a child of our own was extremely humbling. We were typical first-time parents and then some.

The evening of February 26th, Emma - still in my womb - stopped moving for hours. She had done this once before 2 weeks earlier and my doctor rushed to admit me only to find I was dehydrated so Emma was too. However, this put me on high alert for the remainder of the pregnancy. She was due March 17, so we were still not there yet. House was ready. All the goofy parenting classes had been attended including the one with the fake breast that is intended to teach nursing, but really is just an enormous temptation for all the men in the room to burst into contagious giggling. We even had our bags packed for the hospital, so unlike other Powell Pandelerium, we were as prepared as we could be.

So we called the doctor on call. Drink a coke, she says. If Emma does not respond to the caffeine, than I am to go in for observation. No response. We get to the hospital to find that we are going to have to induce. My body was no longer able to provide for her and she was beginning to enter into a stage of distress. Here is where we start getting the typical Powell predicament. After Pitocin and many hours of listening to that precious little heartbeat, she arrived delivered by her father. My doctor was amazing. She entrusted Jeremy to actually be the first person that our child encountered as she was so rudely exposed to the cold and bright new world.

Fast forward two years. I had to talk Jeremy into more than one child as I wanted a house full and he thought one was great. However, we decided Emma needed a sibling, so we began trying, but we were not telling anyone this time. When we were trying to get pregnant the first time, I hated the constant interrogation from people. It was the first thing out of their mouth. "So, are you pregnant yet?" I don't know about you, but that drove me crazy. We also had been reminded how lucky we were to actually be blessed with the child we had and to try for another could be disappointing. So we kept to ourselves. By keeping #2 a secret, it was a lot less stressful.

Let me set the scene for you in the Powell world at this point in time. My mother passed away to cancer in November of 2006. Jeremy was receiving IV medication through a PICC line that I was administering because of a fungal infection in his vertebrae. The infection was actually compromising his ability to walk, so he was a mess. We were 700+ miles away from the nearest family member. And as some of our family vocalized - "Why would you do that?" There were concerns about Jeremy's long term prognosis, so many were afraid I would be operating as a parent of 2 with little to no help. Most girls turn to Mom for help during pregnancy and child rearing advice. I didn't have that anymore. Luckily, I learned a lot from her in the 27 years God allowed me to have under her watch.

So, why? Because we both felt the Lord tell us. The Lord had plans for this second child. The Lord was going to use our lives to tell His story once more. The Lord wanted all to see who He IS and who He will be forever and ever as He continues to work MIRACLES in our life.

So we were obedient. The couple that shouldn't be able to conceive did so again. It was purposed. I believe God wanted me to be pregnant with a little one under foot while our house flooded - twice. I believe God wanted me to be pregnant as we began communicating with another church to further the ministry God was calling us to do. I believe God wanted me to be pregnant when He wanted to mesmerize the medical world by allowing Jeremy to survive 108' fever. I believe God wanted me to be pregnant as I waged a war with dark forces striking horror into my toddler and completely destroying my spirit as she cried and screamed genuine tears of fear. I believe God wanted me to be pregnant during a move of 800 miles. I believe God wanted me to be pregnant with Abigail Jo Powell who was not named completely until we laid eyes upon her that beautiful November afternoon.

My pregnancy with Abigail was easier in some ways and more difficult in others. I literally had Cabbage Patch feet because of swelling, but she was worth it. We had made a connection with a new doctor and she got wind that Jeremy had delivered Emma. So when it came time for Abigail to enter the world, she looked at Jeremy and said, "Scrub up. I can't have you telling one child that you were able to deliver her and not the other."

The look on my husband's face was priceless. Dr. Heaton is an amazing person and physician. Since that day where she assisted with the arrival of my second miracle, she has been nothing but an encouragement and blessing to me. I need to get permission to take an entire piece just to tout her amazing ability to connect with her patients and create an element of trust that is invaluable.

Abigail Jo was what I saw when I looked her in the eyes for the first time. She is every bit of the Southern belle with a double name. She is every bit of the stereotypical second child. She is every bit of the little sister. She has great determination and ambition. She loves music and has an incredible wit. There is an enormous heart still waiting to be fully developed as we get glimpses of it with each little relationship she forms. Every day, I am watching as God continues to mold and shape her into the special person that she is to be - that He will use for His glory. Get ready world, for Abbi Jo is going to come at you in a BIG way. We are sure of this.

Why #2? Because He said so. He has already used her creation and existance to tell His story in enormous ways with just 6 years into the adventure. She has already impacted quite a few people of all sizes and I know God is going to use her to change even more for His glory. She has definitely changed mine. Why do you have the number you have? I would be interested to hear. Make sure you are allowing them to write an amazing autobiography radiating their Creator.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Volume Down. Volume Up.

As a mom, I feel the great responsibility to be an informer to my children of the world. It is also built into the career choice given to me by my Creator. Educators feel the need to provide as much exposure to the world as possible, also. We want them to know how things work. We want them to know the origin of things. We want them to know of what things are composed. We want them to know what choices they have and what consequences are the result of certain choices. We want them to know that their opinion and their passion are a reflection of them, so an awareness of their inner thoughts being outwardly expressed is something to be treated with great discernment.

If you have any kind of relationship with anybody, they are learning from you. They are either learning what you think is best and utilizing that in their decision making OR they are learning that decisions you make are NOT what are best and they are utilizing that in their decision making. There are many things that we do or say out of impulse and lack of filtering in the moment that are impactful on observing eyes and ears. It always amazes me when students that I have taught quote me or tell another student how I will react and what my expectations are. It gives me that feeling of, “wow, they are listening.”

Then there are days like one I had just a few days ago. (Insert humble head bowed) My family loves music, all kinds of music. We listen to amazing worship songs and humorous country music tunes and yes, hip-shaking pop music. My daughters will sing along at the top of their lungs with some songs and as parents, we are trying to be careful about what they are singing along at the top of their lungs. We were in the car the other day singing and dancing in our seats – as good church girls do – when it came to a point in the song where I felt the need for parental advisory volume drop. You know what I am saying – loud cough. My girls are not easily distracted though. They are very observant – VERY OBSERVANT. It causes me to stretch my creativity when trying to answer questions that are difficult and to also divert their attention from things to which I feel they are not ready to be exposed.

So I turn down the volume for a split second as the radio industry has stopped using filters and will play songs with explicit lyrics at any time of day. Awesome, right? We all know that music of our generation was not really any better about what they portrayed in their lyrics, but at least the radio stations or producers would release clean versions of songs to reach another audience.

Volume down. Volume up.

“Mom, why did you do that?”

“Well, there are words in this song that are bad words and I don’t want to hear them, nor do I want you to hear them.”

“Mom, why are their bad words? And why do people use them if they know they are bad words?”
Great questions! Here is a chance for me to exercise one of those lessons of the origin of something and how we make decisions about freedom of choice in this particular element of character.

I explain briefly the history of bad words and how they came to be and I explain that certain artists think that in order to be successful they must have that edge of shock value. I also take time to explain that all people from time to time struggle and sometimes slip and that they may hear these words in their everyday life from people they know, but it doesn’t mean that they are to use them.

“Yeah, even you mess up sometimes too, Mom.”

Insert face of horror. Although I know I am far, FAR from perfect, I am now aware that I let my guard down at some point where little ears were impressionable. What have I said? When did I say it? How often have they heard me say whatever it is that I said?

“Like sometimes when you and Daddy argue, you say the ‘S” word.”

Again, I am now flushed to the point of sweating. When did I say that? Gee golly, I must have been super flustered and angry. Oh, I have some clean-up work to do. This is another one of those moments where it is super fun to have “preacher kids.” I will go ahead and apologize to all of you who have already listened to our home life from my daughters who do not mind letting you know we are among the most normal families in the world – we are dysfunction. We are a part of the fallen world and we too, make mistakes.

“Oh sweetie, I am so sorry that Mommy got so upset that I failed to use proper words to speak to Daddy. That is not right. Even when I am sad or mad or frustrated, it is important that I use words that will not cause harm or leave wounds and those kinds of words are very harmful. I am sorry that I set that kind of example for you. Please, forgive me. I will try to improve that character flaw.”

“Oh mom, it’s ok. You can’t help it. You were only trying to get Daddy to quit talking so he would listen to you.”

There it is. Although slightly still embarrassed, I am now at a great place of relief. I had not said my dreaded “S” word. I had said her dreaded “S” word. She was referring to the unkind and often frowned upon for our children phrase – Shut Up! So my heart is no longer just crushed that I had allowed something completely through the filter, but at the same time, I had said something that she viewed as harmful and ugly. And really, it is. And really, that is important for me to respect and to show self-control. However, in the heat of a discussion, you typically do not hear someone in kindergarten teacher voice calmly say, “Be quiet please.”

So am I super mom? Obviously not. Do I argue with my husband making me a not so perfect wife? Yep, guilty. I am far from super or perfect anything. But I am learning every day what NOT to do so that my kids can have a better chance of being a better person than myself. My kids are under a completely different bubble of pressure as they have not only Jeremy and me as parents hovering as a label over their heads, but they also have the stereotype of preacher kids to defy. I’m not going to paint a picture that is not real for you. We are struggling sinners saved by grace. I hope that lets you know you are not alone. I also pray that you are learning alongside us as we continue this adventure called life. Little (and big) ears and eyes are watching and listening. They will mimic you in a heartbeat as they believe you would never lead them astray. Don’t miss that. They are counting on you to get them to your level properly armed for battle. Every word you say and every move you make…they are watching. (You hear that 80s song by the Police, don’t you?)

God is capable of helping you filter. However, self-discipline is just that, SELF-discipline. Be on your guard and always be ready. I know I am in need of practice and sharpening the sword today. May your day be disciplined and blessed!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Never Thought About It That Way

As I have emerged into adulthood (because I like to think it was just recently – bwahahahahaha), I have had a perspective change on many things. We all do. Let me remind you of some of them.

1. When we are little children, we think our parents are genius and invincible. Then there is that awkward era of our lives called adolescence where we temporarily feel that we are the ones who are all knowing and invincible. As adulthood begins to settle into our being, we return back to the awareness that our parents are genius. However, there is a subtle understanding that though their intelligence is invaluable, their fragility is to be respected and protected with your strength.
2. Thrill rides are still so much fun, but watching my children enjoy things of this nature for the first time far exceeds the thrill the actual activity brings me. Do you remember your parents looking at you with that reflective grin? You do it now.
3. I now know that I do not hate to read. I hate to read something that I didn’t have the choice in reading. So that was my problem in school. Half of the great classics that I was forced to read for Honors English are so much more enjoyable NOW as I have chosen to take them off the shelf of my own free will and not because it was a make-or-break-the-grade decision. And now, I see even more the great life lessons that are illustrated in many of the classic pieces that I refused to see before as I just grumbled and huffed about the waste of time I thought they were. (Sorry Great English teachers!) I even named my first dog after marriage Scout because of To Kill a Mockingbird.

4. Vegetables are not good for you. Vegetables are necessary for you. I was that awful child who would sit at the table for an hour and not eat that which was on my plate. As I have advanced in my years, I have come to the realization that a well-balanced diet doesn’t just help me have a healthier life, it helps me just feel better all around. I’m trying to do better with my kiddos. I’m not perfect, but trying!

This list could go on and on for an entire book…and maybe it will one day…but the biggest change in perspective that I wanted to point out is the pulling back of the curtain. You see, I was a typical American child/teen/person. I spent quite a bit of time taking things for granted. I even still find myself wrapped up in a trust in things that are actually a luxury. And the other biggie is the unfortunate behavior that I have adopted as an American that the things that I have are expected and, dare I say it, deserved.

Not only am I to have a roof over my head, but that roof is to keep all the elements away, meaning it is not to leak or to have any weakness. Not only am I to have 4 walls to keep me protected, they are also to be insulated so that the temperature created by my electrically induced CENTRAL HEAT AND AIR UNIT will be regulated so that I am always comfortable. AND when I am slightly uncomfortable – you know those ever so often moments of chill or hot flash – I can simply press a button and adjust the atmosphere of my little (often large) habitat. Oh yeah, and more often than not, I have experienced the comfort of flooring that is conducive to my needs – hard floors that are easy to clean or soft floors that are cushy to my bare feet.

I have an automobile that has powered windows and seats. My car is a mobile NASA command center. It also has the luxury of climate control like my home, but it even goes to the extra luxury of allowing my guests in my car to adjust their climate to be different from me as the driver. My passenger and I can even quicken our warming process on a cold morning by allowing our seats to become heated without becoming engulfed in flames. My automobile will communicate with satellites outside and out-of-sight to assist me in navigation AND to give me an even larger assortment of listening enjoyment.

I will stop with those two to tell you that my perspective has not changed to be wowed by all of the luxuries, although I am easily wowed. My perspective has changed as time sometimes allows me to pause and realize it is not man who makes it all happen. You see, the man who created the assembly line (Henry Ford) was able to create such a revolutionary invention because the Creator allowed him the ability to envision such an innovation. Everything that has been created or advanced or introduced or improved has been done so by a being that was created by the ultimate Creator. God did not let Moses go into the Promise land and walk amongst this great beauty, but He did let him see it from afar. Think about how much God has allowed man to now walk amongst. It is mind boggling.

God allowed someone to see the wheat plant and make a decision to crush it into a powder…AND combine it with liquid…AND take this new mush dough and apply heat to it for a certain amount of time creating one of the greatest and oldest blessings to the human appetite – BREAD.

God allowed someone to take certain plants and animal material and WEAVE it into a durable creation that was then sewn (still using plant fiber) into a design that actually fit around the human body providing not only protection from the elements, but also levels of COMFORT and WARMTH. How many different weights of jackets do you have? Someone figured out which combinations of fabrics provide the greatest comfort for lounging – I LOVE FLEECY PANTS! Even recently this has become all the more real to me as I watch my eldest daughter learn to knit. The pattern that she is being taught was passed down by many different generations. Somewhere in history, God allowed someone to develop this pattern of durable intertwining of thread that has maintained and evolved into machines that were created by man to mimic the pattern in mass production! What? AMAZING!

Here is the biggest to me. God allowed man to look behind the curtain at His greatest creation – the human body. Do you understand how much of that we take for granted? You can take allergy medicine because someone figured out that there are elements in our environment that cause the body to have allergic reactions. Not only were they able to identify what elements cause these bodily reactions, they also figured out what combination of chemicals can be infused into the body that strengthens the body’s ability to defend against these reactions. God allows man to develop and use machines to actually LOOK INSIDE the human body without cutting it open! God allows man the knowledge of how do perform surgeries for life-threatening measures. God has even allowed man to tamper with the rhythm of the human bodies rest pattern in order to allow a person to sleep through surgical procedures AND allowed man the wisdom to know how much anesthesia is needed to enable the body to wake up after the procedure is over. I could go on and on about what God has allowed us to see and to know.
It is so humbling and so awe inspiring. I find myself acutely aware that we, that I could be like Moses. We could know of great things, but not truly be able to experience them. So many people on this earth do not have the same luxuries that we have in America and I know that it is by the grace of God that I was born here during this time in our existence. When you change your awareness of where you are and what you have, it changes your entire demeanor. When you change your demeanor, you can change the course of your day. When you change the development of your day, you can affect others and change the perspective of their day. When they change, they affect others and a ripple occurs.

God has pulled the curtain back on SO MUCH. I am so thankful for what he has allowed us to see and to experience. May the exposure you are allowed to have of His creation today give you a fresh perspective on who He is and who you are.