Friday, October 31, 2014

day 30: my fellow thumb sucking boy

it is simeon's turn for me to be thankful for him!

  • this boy is pure sunshine. we were camping with our church and went to a campfire gathering, a lot of the people there we didn't know yet, and he shouted, "these are all my friends!" he is so friendly and everyone who meets him falls instantly in love.
  • he knows no personal space. his favorite place is on my lap, holding my hair, and sucking him thumb (we have this thumb sucking thing in common since i sucked mine til i was 7). if my lap isn't available, anyone else's lap and hair will do. he just needs the snuggle.
  • he tells me all the time that i am his favorite. 
  • he is feisty. his middle name is jacob, and often i think it would have been a more fitting first name for his personality - one who wrestles with the angel of the Lord until He blesses him. also... i could see him tricking an older brother out of a birthright. i am just saying...
  • he is so articulate. he said "i need mama" and "i love you" at 3 months old, and has been a jabber mouth ever since. i am not kidding. i cannot tell you how many people have met him his whole life and say, "how old is he? his vocabulary is so advanced." trust me, i know! i am shocked often at how well he expresses himself. 
  • he has a contagious laugh! he wakes up happy and loud and giggly and greets people when he first sees them with shouts and cheers and clapping. 
  • this kid is a mama's boy. all of my boys are, but simeon acts like my world should revolve around him alone and it makes us laugh that he is #4 of 6... he so doesn't act like it to me.
  • he has the cutest little sylvester the cat accent. i know he will grow out of it, but it just cracks me up to hear him talk because it is so cute.

charis

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Thursday, October 30, 2014

day 29: the gift of no regrets


i had a period of time during my teen years that my relationship with my dad was tense. we went through some intense family situations when i was a kid that led to a chain reaction of some unhealthy ways of dealing with stress. i personally struggled a lot internally with the stress in my family, and there were fractures in my relationship with my dad. i had a build up of hurt and emotions and felt like i often ended up in conflict situations with my dad even when i didn't mean to be in a conflict. looking back, as i was struggling with my own emotions and reactions i was often disrespectful with my mouth to both my parents, but especially to my dad because i felt hurt by some of the stress in our house. i was trying to protect myself in a very immature way. now as a parent, i feel especially sad about the way i talked to my dad in conflict and misunderstandings. i was so upset and just plain immature at the time that i couldn't see how hurtful i was to him as another human being who could be hurt by my words. i don't think i really understood that a child can hurt a parent with words, but now as a mom i do understand this and have experienced it to a very small extent. i can even see from this point in my life that the stress in my growing up years had nothing to do with me, but as a child it felt like it did. i also now have perspective that adults don't always make the right decisions just because they are adults - i am sure my kids wonder why i deal with things in immature ways because they don't realize that being an adult or a parent doesn't make you perfect.

i loved the Lord very much as a teenager, even though i acted very childish and disrespectful at times. i decided to go to a christian university about 600 miles away after graduating from high school. i was nervous to go away from home, but i think i needed the distance for a short time to try to work on my own heart with God in a very intentional way. my college years were incredibly fruitful in my life with the Lord and incredibly intense. the point of this post isn't processing living away from home or about the college experience, but there were times in college when i was so lonely and literally felt like God was my only friend. sometimes i was so homesick, but knew i was exactly where i was supposed to be. i made lots of friends and was very involved in classes, working, and extra-curricular activities. however, i was going through such a crushing and refining time with the Lord that i look back on that time as one that was incredibly hard and yet produced tons good fruit in my heart.

i remember coming home to work for the summer after finishing my first year of school away and my mom pulling me aside. she told me that she could see so much good fruit in my life with the Lord from how i didn't react in a conversation with my dad that just a year earlier
would have set off my mouth in a sassy way. i don't even know if i realized that i didn't react until she pointed it out. i remember feeling so happy, deep joy, when she told me that she saw a change in me. it felt like suddenly all the hard lonely times with only having the Lord to lean on, cry out to, and spend time with the past 9 months were suddenly so worth it because there was good fruit in my life and in the way i used my mouth!

i had been especially a daddy's girl when i was very young, but the stress in our house later on had broken down that especially close bond. i always loved my dad and knew his deep love for me, but we just had a really hard time communicating and i hadn't fully forgiven him for hurts even though i had tried over and over again. finally my heart felt free from hurt and i knew that God had given me the gift of truly being able to forgive him and love him the way i really wanted to love him all along - with a more mature and humble love. it was like that daddy's girl bond was reestablished because of the Lord's healing work in my heart and all the refining He had done in me while i was alone.

from that point on my relationship with my daddy just got better and better. there were still the normal human dynamics of misunderstanding or small conflict from time to time, but it was so good and so sweet so much of the time. i remember being so excited for my daddy to meet this guy that i had met in brazil and was considering marrying when he was going to visit me for the first time. it was one of my little tests to know if bill was the right one - how well could he talk to and relate to my daddy. i was thrilled to see they really hit it off. I could see how much my dad liked him andz he gave his blessing so willingly to the guy i was falling in love with.

the very first person i wanted to tell when i found out i was pregnant for the first time, besides my husband, was my dad. i immediately went to target to buy a frame that said "we love you grandpa" for him to open on father's day as our announcement. he was the first person i wanted to share my joy with in the expectation of having a baby. i remember when he was scheduled for a surgery several years ago that was pretty intense, and i knew we had been trying to get pregnant for several months and there was a possibility i could be pregnant. i knew it was a bit early to find out for sure, but i held my pee all day in hopes that i could find out the night before my daddy headed down to san francisco for surgery so i could tell him. it was a comfort to me that he would know going into surgery that he was going to be a grandpa again, and i was so excited to drive other there late at night just to tell him in person before he left.

anyways, i guess i go into all of this to just say that i am so so deeply thankful that God healed my relationship with my daddy, and that He made it so much better than i could have ever imagined. it was like He took something that was good before it was broken, and He took all the broken places and healed them up to be even better than it had ever been before. now, looking back after having to walk through my dad's battle with cancer and how horribly hard it was to go through in ways i can't even really write about at this point, i am thankful over and over and over again that our relationship wasn't only good, but it was really really really good. several years ago, before he was going through all the sickness stuff, i had been really convicted to repent to my siblings and parents for hurtful ways i treated them as a teenager. i went to my daddy and told him i was so sorry for all the hurtful ways i talked to him and asked him to please forgive me. he said he already had long ago. i knew that i wasn't really repenting for his sake, but for my own heart to feel released. i have thought so many many times that i am so thankful that God gave me that opportunity to acknowledge what i had done wrong in our relationship, so that i wouldn't have unresolved places in my heart.

i remember just sitting there in the room while my dad slept during the really sick times praying for healing and it was just so painful to see him like that, and i remember just telling the Lord i was so thankful for even that very painful moment of being with my daddy. i wanted to be thankful in the middle of the worst of it and in the middle of all the pain, because i could be there with him, pray for him, love him unselfishly, and be confident that our relationship was really really good. i am so sad that he wasn't healed here and now because i miss him so much. i am so thankful, though, that before ever having to walk through it God brought beautiful healing and health to our relationship and i will never have to struggle with regrets about my relationship with my daddy.

i really encourage anyone who is having a rift in your relationship with a parent or loved one to make it right on your end. fully press into God for grace to really forgive past hurts, and let Him be the One to heal the broken places in your heart. stop holding some standard of expectation of what the other person "should" do to make it right. ask Him for the opportunity to have any breeches in relationship mended. humble yourself to the person for your part in the mess, because there is no tension in any relationship that is 100% one party's fault but always some degree of fault on both sides.

none of us are guaranteed even one more day, and we don't want to live with regrets about how we treated those we loved. we all want to have a clean conscious before the Lord. God is the Restorer of all things, and He really does take what is broken and fix it and make it even better than before the breaking happened.

charis

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Wednesday, October 29, 2014

day 28: a mama's boy

it is uriah's turn!
  • he is such a fun kid! i love how his eyes twinkle when he laughs and when he cries.
  • he is so ultra focused on anything he is doing and he does everything with 110% effort.
  • everything is about speed with this boy. 
  • he is forever a mama's boy - such a sweet spot in my heart for his lovey ways and his deep attachment to his mama. he still thinks he will never marry but be with mommy forever.
  • he is so incredibly artistic and musical - i am often surprised at what he produces creatively.
  • he is so boyish boy, but he isn't afraid of having girl friends or doing "girl" activities like making a rag doll or stringing beads in a co-op class. in fact, he really enjoys it. he love to cook. he wants me to teach him how to knit. and yet, he is so rough and tumble and a filthy dirty boy. dirty feet all the time. he is quite a paradox and i love it.
  • he loves to lead worship. when in kindergarten and asked what he wanted to do when he grew up he said be a preacher... i think he very well may, but i know he will always lead worship.

charis

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Tuesday, October 28, 2014

day 27: my youngest little man


giving thanks for my little hosea justus today:

  • he is sweet as sugar - i call him my sugar baby. his smile and twinkling eyes can melt me in an instant.
  • he is fierce and loves to fight more than any of my other boys - he constantly plays david and goliath. he walks around the house as goliath yelling, "who will fight me today?!"
  • i thought i only wanted 4 kids - he is number 5, number 5 boy nonetheless, and he is seriously like icing on the top of the cake. i cannot imagine life without him and all he has brought to make my life fuller. God gave me such a sweet gift when He gave me our little "zeƤ." 
  • at only 2 years old, he already loves to pray. he starts every prayer out with, "Lord, i thank you that..." and he truly does thank the Lord for things and pray about real burdens on his heart. it is amazing what a 2 year old can really grasp.
  • he reminds me so much of asher at this age - i feel like i am reliving 8 years ago and that is so much fun.
  • he is a cuddle bug.
  • God really met me in an intimate and incredible way during his birth.

charis

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Monday, October 27, 2014

day 26: avoiding the entitlement trap




i have been wanting to write about entitlement in this series. i think it it the elephant in the room when it comes to giving thanks (or not giving thanks).   everyone knows it is there, everyone struggles with it even if they don't want to admit it, and everyone thinks it is someone else's problem.

listen, i know that our culture has made a lot of money by selling us the line that we deserve to be happy, comfortable, and entertained. the thing is, the moment we start toying with the idea that we deserve anything at all, we lose the ability to be truly thankful.

i cannot look longingly at what i do not have, convincing myself of all the reasons why i really should have it, cling to the lie that have been somehow wronged if i don't end up having it, and see the blessings that are in my life. all i can see is the blinding light of what i "deserve."  whether it is out loud with my lips or deep inside in my heart, i will start grumbling and complaining about how i was somehow wronged because of my lack in the area of my life that i believe should be different. usually the one we ultimately believe has wronged us is God Himself.

it doesn't have to be about material possessions either. entitlement and self pity are like bffs. they take turns making us more miserable, more anxious, and more ungrateful. we can easily fall prey to this danger because it is one of the most widely preached messages in the american culture, even sometimes in the church. "you deserve _______." it is shouted everywhere we turn.

entitlement is the lock and chain that keeps our eyes blind and our hearts entangled in strife and envy, but giving thanks is the key to living in freedom and joy.

we do not have a right to be happy.

life being fair is nowhere in the bible.

we do not deserve anything.

we really do need the grace of the Holy Spirit to give us a heart of thanks to replace the heart of entitlement that every single one of us struggle with on some level.

in the words of a misty edwards' song:
You owed me nothing
i deserved hell
You owed me nothing
but You've given me mercy...
we need a sobering of our own estimation of ourselves to realize that these lyrics are the reality of our lives - without the mercy and kindness of God, we were on a road leading to hell itself. but in His abundant lovingkindness, He rescued us from a life headed towards destruction; and if it were for only this one single act, we could spend every moment of the rest of our days giving thanks. He is so generous with us if we could only have eyes to see His kiss of goodness in
every. single. event. in. our. lives.

- even the really tough ones that seem to be from the enemy of our souls.

the Lord is holding us in the palm of His hand and nothing can take us away from Him. in these times we still can give thanks over and over again for He is faithful to us all the time. if we fall into the trap of entitlement, we will always be discontent, demanding from our very Creator a different life than He has given us.

see, the best cure for entitlement is to give thanks. when we are filling our thoughts, hearts, and mouths with all that God has done for us, for how much He has given to us that we did nothing to deserve... we stop thinking about what we think we deserve that we lack. His gifts are always for our good. He is a good Father. we have so much to give thanks for, if we would only look at all He has done and given day after day after day.

we do not have to fall into this trap. giving thanks can set our hearts free.

charis

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