Random Musings

I am a man.

Raising children is complex and challenging. While it is rewarding, it takes everything you’ve got. All day. Every day. And this crazy, mixed up world doesn’t make it any easier.

My kids, like all kids, ask questions. a lot of questions. When I became a mother, I made a commitment to myself to answer those questions as honestly as possible in the most age appropriate way. How else would they learn about life and the world around them?
Well, my kids are a bit older now and the questions span the spectrum.

Yesterday, my daughter ran in front of me to open a door for me. Usually my little guy does it, but this time she was faster. It was just me with the kids, stroller, diaper bag, etc. Suddenly, not one, not two, not even three but four adult men proceeded to walk between me, my kiddos, and the LITTLE GIRL holding the door and go right inside without as much as a thank you or excuse me. There was very little room, so it required effort for them to make the squeeze. I was very upset needless to say. But I said nothing. I thanked my daughter for holding the door and said let’s go. Then came the question.

“Mommy? Why did those men think it’s ok to do that?”

I couldn’t tell him that. Not now. Not at four. Why make our history his burden? Or was it already?

I got low so that I could look him in his eyes. I said “I wish I could answer that for you. I wish I could offer you a reasonable explanation but there may not be one. What I can tell you is this: One day you. will. be. a. good. man. One that is worthy of respect. One that honors the women in his life and those around him. A man that is worthy of respect because he shows that other people have value and restores dignity to those he encounters just like Jesus did.
One day son, you will be a good man.” I assumed that most of my soliloquy slash rant went over his head. And was somewhat satisfied that at least it served cathartic purposes for me.

Then something happened that changed me and changed the way I see him.
He looked back at me and said “Yes ma’am, I already am.” and drank his juice box.

It reminded me of a photo we took on Mother Son date night at a museum. It read “I am a man.” That statement is so meaningful, and powerful. It is as relevant today as it was then. Yes it refers to the struggle for equality for both Native and African Americans, but today for me, it refers to the kind of man America needs to see more of. One who defies the pressure of culture instead of going with the flow. The kind of man who will be a leader in his home, his workplace and his community. The kind of man who lives his life knowing that what he represents is far greater than any one individual and that if the world is going to be a better place, it has to begin with him.

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Random Musings

My Biggest Fear

My greatest fear is for the church to become overrun by the cares of this world and that complacency will spiral out of control. That creature comforts will crowd out passion and the love of God will grow cold. That neither His call will beckon nor His command rouse to action and the single most powerful force on the planet will lay asleep nestled cozy amidst her manicured lawns, PTA meetings, and 9-5 priorities. And not until the cessation of life will reality set in and she realize that her life was spent building what cannot last, consumed with impressing other parts of her body and competing with those she was called to rescue, in constant pursuit of anti-aging efforts and what she did not have but always wanted.

May God have mercy on His church.

May we rouse from slumber at last and put our hands to the helm, and chart a course head on into uncertainty where only faith can keep and anchor our vessels, where man’s opinion matters not and we cannot experience absolute ecstasy apart from the pursuit of His presence.

O that our hearts would long for Him!! O that only the sound of His voice, movement of His hand, and certainty of His Word would satiate our appetites!

The days are coming and are here in which the hot will burn hotter and the cold will slip into a frigid darkness. But each will choose (or has already chosen). Either light or darkness.
And one or the other will consume them.

Random Musings

Happy Mother’s Day…to me

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I mentioned the other day that for this Mother’s Day I would be giving myself the Best. Gift. Ever. and it’s true.

I ran down the list of all the things a woman might enjoy…chocolate, pearls, diamonds, a spa day, etc. Yes, I might enjoy all of those things, but nothing more than this: permission to do absolutely nothing and enjoy it. It’s a gift that only I can give myself. And it’s the gift that keeps on giving.

Today I cancelled plans, and I did not plan. We took an impromptu trip to the beach and didn’t even prepare ahead of time. I didn’t pack towels, or lunch. That is work, and I was going to do nothing…and enjoy it.

Enjoying it implies that there is the absence of guilt. I didn’t beat myself up for not packing swimsuits or freak out that the weather may have been a little to cool for a perfect day at the beach. Except, it was perfect. Absolutely perfect.

It was also perfect, because although my mom is far, far away, today I felt close to her.

The one thing I know that she would want to do is go to the beach on Mother’s Day. So I did with my kids what I wished I could do with her. As my toes became engrossed in its sandy composition the shore of a beach thousands of miles away brought me close to my mom on Mother’s Day.

There were many gifts those therapeutic waves washed ashore, among them was also stress relief. The sun kissed my skin, the wind blew my hair, and my heart filled with joy watching the kiddos play, and simultaneously my heart emptied of cares.

Everyday is a gift from God, but this one was special. It was also a gift from me to me.

Happy Mother’s Day!

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Random Musings

Once Upon an Altar

Tonight I am finding my place on the altar.

We’ve heard that each man or woman must take up their cross and follow Him, and somehow we allow movies or well meaning Sunday School teachers to determine how that is depicted. We hear WWJD and we somehow romanticize self sacrifice and think “I got this.” But in reality we don’t have anything. Emulating the Master? Following the One who says that He (although Diety) did not come to be served, but to serve…Imitating the One who bowed low and washed His dysfunctional disciples’ feet. And even that’s ok, but then He invites us to go and do the same.

The Christian life is marked by sacrifice. His sacrifice for us and our sacrifice for Him.

Tonight I find my place on the altar.

Sacrifices are bloody, flesh is mutilated, carcasses laid bare. Birds of prey circle overhead, the smell of blood filling the air. They salivate as the anticipation of feasting on the flesh mounts. Suddenly you come to the realization that you are the sacrifice. You lay there on the altar looking up or looking down, but you blink incessantly hoping to wake up from this horrible nightmare. It’s your flesh that must be offered…you’re the helpless animal. The news gets even better…
We are supposed to do this daily.

“I therefore urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercies, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices that are holy and pleasing to God, for this is the reasonable way for you to worship.” Romans 12:1

God calls it reasonable.

According to Mathew Henry’s Concise Commentary “This is a powerful appeal. We receive from the Lord every day the fruits of his mercy. Let us render ourselves; all we are, all we have, all we can do: and after all, what return is it for such very rich receivings?”

Every single day, we are to crucify our flesh. We make it sounds so churchy and awesome. We go get new dresses and wear our best suit for Easter. What is Easter? The day we celebrate the death, burial and in particular, the resurrection of our Savior. Once a year we love sacrifice. But it’s gut wrenching, painful…and well, beautiful.

Once we crucify ourselves…mortifying our sinful flesh…then the life of Christ can truly be lived through us. That is when we transform from being mere mortals to supernatural sons and daughters of God.

Tonight, find your place on the altar.

“Lord, not my will, but thy will be done.”

Random Musings

32 Experiences Every Child Should Have

1. Camping-Not only does it help a psychologically and emotionally to spend time with nature, it teaches them to appreciate modern conveniences, and affords them a chance to unplug from media and electronic devices.

2. Kite Flying-Kite flying seems simple, but it expands their understanding of what is possible and it’s relaxing as well.

3. Playing in the mud-Playing in the mud is little kid therapy. Try not to discourage messy play. It nurtures creativity and helps development.

4. Having a pet-Learning to care for a pet teaches biology up close, and instills a sense of responsibility and can teach compassion. Also, when the pet dies, it is an opportunity to teach a child how to grieve properly.

5. Journaling- Journalling is great for kids because it creates a venue for the child to express themselves, record creative ideas and good memories to reflect back on. Also helps penmanship.

6. Never going to bed hungry-Food insecurity is a major cause of stress for children and can affect brain development.

7. Being looked in the eyes and told “I love you by someone who means it” every day.

9. Being read to and with every day-I might also add, creating a space just for them to read. Even if this is just a bin of books next to a beanbag chair. I know our lives are busy, but this simple activity strengthens relationships, develops of love for learning and helps a child’s ability to communicate and master language.

10. Traveling outside of the city/state/country they live in- This is important to help a child develop a balanced worldview and develop an understanding of other cultures and people groups.

11. Helping prepare a meal with loved ones- This helps teach responsibility, teamwork and life skills to be used later in life. It’s also a great opportunity for bonding.

12. Attending a funeral- This helps a child develop compassion, and learn how to grieve properly in a safe setting.

13. Attending a wedding/graduation/etc- This helps teach a child to celebrate the accomplishments of others.

14. Attending a live sporting event-This is just fun. It’s a good time bond and learn about the game first hand.

15. Attending a church service-This is important for a child to live a life anchored by faith and fed by fellowship with other children of faith.

16. Visiting a farm- This is also kid therapy, but more than that it helps children understand the human element behind the food in grocery stores.

17. Looking through a telescope into outer space- This is so important because it inspires children to know that there is so much more to the universe than what is contained within the walls of our homes and schools.

18. Building a fort out of anything- it’s just plain fun! It also encourages problem solving, creativity and much more.

19. A real life talk about stranger danger- The life saving information can protect their children (and teens) in a number of dangerous situations. There are definitely more today than ever. Whatever age they are have the talk with your child.

20. Permission to be who God made them to be-Try not to make them who you want them to be. Instead, help them discover who God made them to be and nurture that. Your love and support indirectly gives them permission to flourish.

21. Have something personalized by their parents in their bedroom. Not all licensed decor.- Your child is unique and at least one item in their room should reflect that you identify and celebrate their uniqueness.

22. Opportunities to enjoy age appropriate media regarding their specific interests- Children shouldn’t be burdened by adult issues in their down time. They should be able to enjoy magazines, books, websites, movies, music, etc on topics that interest them but doesn’t violate the level of innocence appropriate for their age.

23. People they love telling them no- While it’s awesome to always hear yes, sometimes we need to hear no. And sometimes that communicates love more than hearing yes.

24. Firm clearly established boundaries-Contrary to popular belief…children (yes, even teens) long for boundaries. They need boundaries. It creates a sense of safety, and helps them develop to their full potential. They will even respect you for it.

25. Having people in their life that think they are awesome just the way they are, but encourage them to reach higher.- It is obvious to a child when people don’t expect much from them. They rise or fall to meet the expectations of their parents. They need to feel accepted, loved and yes…challenged to be better.

26. Giving to the poor- Unfortunately so much of our culture feeds and reinforces selfishness. Giving to those less fortunate than ourselves, helps combat that.

27. Writing a thank you note-Also on the list of missing virtues of this generation is gratitude. This simple act can help cultivate that.

28. Holding the door for someone-This teaches a child to be considerate of others, teaches boys chivalry and is polite.

29. Giving up their seat for someone elderly or pregnant-Same as above

30. Learning to ride a bike-Just plain fun! It is great exercise, and also develops balance and coordination. Besides, it offers them a different form of transportation when they are older.

31. Learn to swim-Fun, exercise, relaxing…life saving!

32. Days when there is no schedule- Schedules are awesome. Routine helps children thrive, but sometimes our schedules are too aggressive and stressful to the kids. Relax! Let them relax too…once in a while.

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Random Musings

The Proverbial Elephant

I long sometimes to return to the pre Freudian days when not everything was a diagnosis or syndrome. People were individuals not always case studies. While the classification of symptoms and characteristics helps on a broad scale, help on a narrow scale seems to be non existent. People like Karyn Washington. ‘Wren Scott slipped through the cracks. It’s tragic and every loss counts…every life significant”. Yet there are many who aren’t on social media or famous, and they slip into the night unnoticed. (Yet they are never unnoticed to God). There is a bridge in Seattle that many people jump from to commit suicide. So many in fact that when drivers on their commute to work pass under it, they slow down to look for jumpers.

Most of what is done concerning mental illness involves sweeping symptoms under the rug due to the stigma.
We need the broad scale for research, study, and practical application. Yet that often involves “throwing medicine” at the problem. But what if we reserved prescriptions for those who really need it, took the focus off of making life easy, and people were taught how to manage and overcome symptoms.
Better yet, what if we put people on a path to wellness instead of a path to the pharmacy.

There is a video by TEDx Talks and it reiterates this point. The speaker, Stephen Ilardi describes depression as a disease of civilization. He presents a BOLD set of solutions with proven results.
Ted Talk