Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Washed Up Fruit!

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness,
goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.”
Galatians 5:22

My fruits of the Spirit today are more like a fruit smoothie that’s been sitting in the hot car for the day. Hmmm, at least that’s what I found this afternoon in my son’s cup holder in the car. It was his breakfast that was only half gone and what was once a frozen, yummy sweet treat is now a hot mess with a thick dried film that has morphed into a unidentified solid.
We’ve been discussing fruits of the Spirit in our children’s Sunday school program. Last Sunday we discussed “JOY”.  It’s amazing how much more I process and learn scriptures when having to teach them to younger children. It really gives you a new perspective on scriptures you have read before or even have taken for granted. Our group talked about the difference between being happy and having joy. Happiness is based on circumstances and ebbs and flows depending on the day, hour or minute and what fires we may or may not be putting out at the time. Joy on the other hand is directly from God and our relationship with Jesus.  Our Joy is not merely a fleeting emotion, but rather it is a state of being.
I often find myself ankle deep in “life” and allow the tidal wave of emotions to take over and jump into the driver’s seat rather than resting in my joy. Truly, I could probably pick any day; however, today was especially fitting for this example. It’s like a tower built with Cooper’s wooden blocks, it starts to get really shaky the higher it gets before it eventually topples over in a heap.
Our tower and tidal wave for today began when Parker forgot her homework at school. The first small block is laid down and unbeknownst to me, the waters are slowly beginning to move. Her frustration began an unending stream of tears that lead into the next reason she was so upset, her color was changed in class today. Another block has just been added. Moments later, we are now running into piano lessons (and when I say running, I really mean sprinting because Parker has a new found fear of thunderstorms). Parker is coming unglued by the moment and more blocks are laid down. We are now leaving the piano lesson and Cooper decides to make the most of the large rain puddle left behind from the storm (a little trick Daddy taught him). Now you might expect me to say that this was another block; however, I was actually (through gritted teeth) trying to be very cool with it that is at least until he found the muddy end of the puddle and is now covered head to toe in mud. Please bring forth the next block and the waters are beginning to rise. Next we arrive home with deep breaths and as I am trying to help Cooper take off his muddy clothes before entering the house, the vacuum cleaner he was using to balance himself on falls on my head. After I recovered from the stars and regained composure, it was time to lay another block and the waters are now becoming agitated. We enter our home only to discover that our dog, who like Parker is terrified of thunder, has broken out of the kitchen where I had her detained. Prior to her “jail break” she threw her food all over the kitchen in protest. Yep, you guessed it, throw another one on top and roll up your pants, because the water is rising and it’s rising quickly.
I quickly scan the rooms to make sure the dog is ok after her prison break only to discover that she has completely torn up the carpet and padding in the corner of our master bedroom  (i.e. that is why she was detained in the first place). I think the saying; “I don’t know what happened, I just SNAPPED” is so true in these situations. It was if I could hear the walls to the damn break under the pressure of the rising water and the teetering block tower. Let the rushing water begin.
As the tidal wave comes bounding through it is often my fruits of the Spirit that are the first thing to be washed away in the rushing waters. My words and actions no longer have anything to do with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness or self-control. How quickly they are washed out and I am now hung up to dry. Humph. Back to where I started.
The blocks may not be very significant or troublesome on their own. In fact, they’re silly, tiny and meaningless events on their own. It’s often the culmination of all the “insignificant” things though that are enough to take any person down. I wish I had a good definitive answer that made it all into a perfect little package but instead I am reminded that life is messy and not always picture perfect. Good times and bad times will come and go with the rise and the fall of the waters but my life vest remains constant, my relationship to Jesus. It is the gifts of the Holy Spirit that secure my life vest and keep me afloat. My fruit continues to grow just as I do and although my fruit may sometimes smell rotten or seem nonexistent, I will “Rejoice in Lord” (Philippians 3:1) and “considerate it pure joy whenever we face trials (a.k.a motherhood) of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.” (James 1:2-3). **
And just to show you that it can always get better, I must sign off now as my dog just threw up behind me from all the carpet she tried to eat earlier. Really? I don’t even think I could’ve made something up as good as that type of ending. Life vests on? Check!

**Love the book of James! I highly recommend that you dig out your Bible
 (my favorite way is with a cup of coffee in hand and a quiet house).
Look up the book of James with the verses from above, James 1:2-3 and keep reading through verse 7. So many studies and blogs just on these few verses alone.

 I am prayerfully considering and even welcome your prayers on a suggestion from a dear friend. I am thinking about starting a once a week Bible study through this blog. I am not sure of details or particulars as for now I am just sitting, waiting, and listening.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Picture Perfect Perspective

I am learning to be careful with the life experiences I talk about in my blog. I have noticed that the challenges I lay out tend to come back to me full circle and not necessarily in a positive way. I find more spiritual warfare happening, like a little voice saying, “Ha! You think you can slow down? You think you won’t blow up at small potatoes? Well have I got a test for you!” With that I say get behind me Satan…my God is a Big God!

Today was school picture day for both children. What is it about picture day that can leave moms rocking in a corner? These are the days that the coordinating outfits for both children are not clean at the same time or the haircut from the week earlier didn’t quite go as planned or it’s the goose egg that happens the night before or the morning of the picture that leaves you flustered and their face bruised saying, “but your school pictures are tomorrow”. It’s easy to admit that it’s just another day on the school calendar, but secretly in the back of your head you’re really thinking, “This is the picture we’ll have for the rest of our lives”.

Parker is now in second grade and although it has happened quicker than I thought it would come, the baton has been passed. I am no longer the one fretting over the details of the day but rather in my attempt to live by the small potato challenge from my last blog, it was Parker who was taking care of all the details for the day. The polo color was chosen and the hair do was “just right”.

For 2 days leading up to the pictures, Parker had been adamant that I email her teacher and request that the photographer not brush her hair before they take her picture. I kept trying to encourage Parker to tell the photographer herself; however, she was insistent that I take care of it. Taking, my small potato challenge seriously, I figured that the email was silly and of minor importance so I let it go.

Now that the day had finally arrived, her requests for emailing her teacher became more intense so I reassured Parker that I would take care of it; however, in the back of my head I was still thinking how silly the whole thing was becoming. I happened to be volunteering in her room today when the class was called for picture time. Parker looked at me like a deer in head lights when she came to me with one final plea. I finally retreated and told Parker’s teacher her concern. She was so nice about the whole situation and assured me that she would take care of it.

When we walked into the picture room, I quickly scanned the room for those infamous school picture fine tooth combs. I took a deep sigh when I realized there were no combs in sight….we are in… this will be easier than we originally feared. Parker sat down in the seat and was ready for the big moment. Her teacher and I must’ve blinked because before we could do anything, the photographer whipped out the “dreaded weapon”…don, don, don…the fine tooth comb. She might as well have pulled out a knife.  I suddenly found myself moving across the room in slow motion saying “dooooon’t ….brruuuuuushhh ….heeeerrrr….haaaair!” (really, I like to remember it as me diving across the room yelling “nooooooooooo” and then reaching the comb just in time to slap it out of her hand before it even touches Parker’s hair). The photographer responded by saying her hair was a mess and she needed it brushed. Humph. I suppose I experienced firsthand why Parker was insistent that she was not the one to speak with the photographer (lesson learned there). I really couldn’t tell you what tone I took with the photographer at that point because all I could truly see through Parker’s freshly combed hair were 2 large blue eyes filled with tears that said so much without any words ever leaving her mouth. Her worst fear (no matter how silly I thought it was before that moment) had just been realized.

The tears continued to fall and she stepped aside to compose herself in order to try for another picture once the entire class had gone through. Every bone in my body wanted to pull her into my lap and have a good cry with her right there in the room or whisk her away and run for the door. I perceived her fear as just another one of her silly quirks and a small potato when really for her, it was larger than life. In my quest to not fret the small stuff, I was too quick to overlook what was important to Parker.

I suppose it really is all about perspective. For the same reason that Parker and Cooper were recently fighting over the seating order while eating dinner. Cooper was insistent that the order was boy, girl, boy, girl because each time he would call the order out he started with himself first. Parker would argue back that the order was not boy, girl, boy, girl but rather it was girl, boy, girl, boy. Well, we all know that they were both right, it was just all a matter of who they started with first and their perspective.

I will be happy when the school pictures are returned. This will be the one that I keep near and dear and in my Bible to look at often. Her hair may not be what she requested and her eyes may still be puffy, red and slightly tear filled, but it will be my reminder that her heart is tender and her needs no matter how small I perceive them to be are larger than life just like the larger than life spirit she has been given by God!


Monday, September 12, 2011

Small Potatoes

What is this you may ask? I like to call this picture, my small potatoes. At pick up after school last week, both of my children thought it would be a good idea to dig in the dirt while playing with some friends. Let’s just assume that I may not have handled it as well as I should have handled it but in my defense, there was enough dirt on the school uniforms and imbedded in their nails to make any mother cringe. Day 2 at pick up, same scenario of both of my children picking flowers off of the trees and then trying to replant them in the dirt at school. Day 2 ended about the same way day 1 did, not so pretty. After the understanding smile of a friend who felt my pain and the gracious donation of her wipes (hence exhibit A above and thank you Cindy!), I wiped them both clean and marched them to the van only to continue the fuming on the ride home.

I have to admit I am a little embarrassed now that I am sharing the story “out loud”. Through my blushing cheeks, I am realizing 2 things:

1.    Mommy should have probably been keeping a closer eye on her dirt monsters so this so called “problem” would have never happened. And…

2.    It’s so silly to think just how upset I was about the whole ordeal.

Truth is, it wasn’t the digging in the dirt that made me upset or the fact that they were covered from head to toe in dirt but rather it was only the straw that broke the camels back. It was the icing on my very full cake that had already been building for some time. In fact, the ordeal really had nothing to do with either one of them but instead they were good targets at that time to take out every other frustration from the week.

After my blood pressure returned to normal levels, all I could think was, “small potatoes”. According to Free Dictionary, small potatoes means an irrelevant or unimportant concept or notion. It’s a familiar saying derived from the short lived satiation of one who has eaten a small potato.
The idea that the saying is derived from eating a small amount, c’mon this is not something I am familiar with so why on earth am I going to get so worked up over such a trivial event like getting dirty?
So here in lies the challenge. How and what am I going to let go so that I may fully enjoy my children and not use them as defenseless targets.  I like to call the challenge: OPERATION SMALL POTATO. I am looking around my house, my calendar, and my life in general and realizing just how much could be “let go”.
This one should be good…care to join me?