Wednesday, September 29, 2010

YOU are their only advocate

I was saddened tonight when I watched a news report about two parents grieving over their son who had been bullied so much that he ended his life in 8th grade. They said that they talked to the school about it, but the school didn't listen. It went on for 2 years. TWO YEARS??? My son was slightly picked on and his teacher nipped it by the next week. I can't imagine dealing with a broken child for two years. I ache for them.
Something I will never forget, is the advice from Dr. James Dobson in Bringing Up Boys. He suggests that if you and your child have done everything you can to end bullying, and it doesn't stop, and your child's spirit is obviously broken, then pull him out. There is always an alternative place. Whether it be homeschool, or a different school district. I know people who have done this, and have seen amazing differences in their child. It's not wimpy and teaching your child they can't fight for themselves. It is something that must be done if your child no longer has the will to fight...or the will to live. There is no reason a child should ever have the torment of bullies break them so badly that they are no longer themselves.
Something this child in the news report was being picked on for, was his clothes. This, my lovely American culture, is absolutely absurd! I had the privilege to go to public British schools from 2nd to 6th grade, and wore uniforms. My insecurities about how I looked only came up when I was around my "American school" friends, and once we came back to the States. Lax dress code is when shallow classification began, and stress about how much to spend on clothes entered our family.

Friends, please remember the last words I heard this grieving mom say tonight- "Look past the "I'm fines"." Don't push aside your instincts if your child is showing signs of bullying  but doesn't want to talk about it. It's YOUR job to protect them, YOU, the parent, are your child's only advocate!

Cherished Childhood

I still remember the imaginative games my sisters and I played as children. We would dress up as princesses, make houses for rolypolies out of grass clippings, create wild adventures for our little animal figurines, we even covered ourself in mud and pretended we were orphans, walking around the neighborhood in our swimsuits!
It gives me overwhelming joy to see my sons push aside toys (now, sometimes it annoys me because of all the junk we have just sitting there), and interact with each other as different characters, on different missions, in different worlds than reality. Often, I eavesdrop on their conversations, and it takes a minute to realize, nope, they aren't talking to their brothers, but their co-hero or their pretend father! Ha!

It's a relief to know, that they are still embracing their childhood, and will hopefully cherish it as much as I cherish mine.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

And...Loserville is fleeting...

So, I sit here, feeling slightly queazy and desperate-  going from blog to facebook to email, looking for something, anything to make my wasted time "surfing", worth something. Hmm...not that catching up with friends via these avenues isn't worth something, but really, how many times could you read the same fb statuses over and over?
Okay, I have quickly admitted Loserville resides *here*, but now as I write this, my typing vibrations have summoned my entertained-just-a-minute-ago three year old, and has given me something to do...or someone needing entertaining.
How do kids do that- know when Mommy finally comes up with something worth doing (blogging- does that count??), they inevitably need me right that second!!??
So now, you will never know what the point of this blurb was...because now, I have forgotten too!

Monday, September 27, 2010

There is something about an orchard.

I love the contrast of the orderliness and the natural growth of fruit. Orchards will forever remind me of my only trip to Greece and visiting a distant relative who had an ancient orchard of citrus fruit.

 I could sit and read in an orchard, grabbing a piece of delicious fruit whenever I wanted. Orchards have a peace about them. As a Christian, they stir in me the many verses about growing in the Spriit, being in awe at the fruits of the Spirit, and knowing the honor it is to live among God's beautiful creation.

Friday, September 24, 2010

I am a rough draft!

I am humbled everyday. Praise God! I've known those who go through life thinking they are something else, and inevitably find themselves constantly disappointed and growing a chip the size of Texas on their perfectly shaped shoulders. Not that I haven't ever felt that way about myself, it's only human nature...but it seems that I get a swift kick in the rear when I allow my ego to take swift, I mean almost instantaneously!
Whether it be the loss of eloquence in front of a group of people, when I am suppose to be the speaker, or allowing my impatience to lead to a series of mistakes, I am forever reminded that I am that fallible, needy child of God, who can only find perfection when I look at Him. It really is a good thing- to be fallible. It means that I truly need Grace day by day. And the Grace of God is so amazing, I can't complain in the least that I am truly a rough draft!
It's easy to look around me at all the things I want, need, have, and consider myself deserving of a nice fat slap on the back. But when I stick the savior of the universe appropriately at the forefront of all, I realize those things are nothing and I am only something, through Him! Wow! What a relief! No wonder so many actors, actresses, artists, successful business men, are troubled until the end of their famous lives. It's so easy to get caught up in earthly success, and forget that your worth is not placed in those things-- maybe your demise is- if you miss the cross?

Thursday, September 23, 2010

School Rules

Today, we had our parent teacher conferences for my kindergartner and my third grader. We have been very pleased with the thoroughness and demand of good character that their school enforces. We have also been pleased with the boys good reports...they sure are good kids outside of our house...I remember my mom saying we were always great for our teachers, but little stinkers for her...wonder why that is?
Family in 2007, Oldest in Kindergarten
We also received their school pictures. I have an 8x10 frame for each of them, and have their preschool through whichever grade they are in. It was so sentimental to go through them, especially my oldest's. I can't believe what a baby he looked like just three years ago! Now he's getting that definite jaw bone, thicker neck, and adult features. He's a full grown baby left. But I am not as sad as I am proud.

First day of school 2010, 3rd and K
I am proud of the person he is becoming and the potential he has with a strong character and a sharp mind. We have focused so much on the activities we do outside of school, but was gladly reminded today of the importance of helping alongside their teachers, and creating not just strong bodies, but a heart and mind strong enough to love God, love people, and influence the world.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Dreamer to Believer?

I always hesitate to say that I can see God's hand in things...not because I don't believe he is alive and active in all I do, just because I know that I won't be so quick to see it when things aren't going so well. It's something I struggle with on a daily basis. I can see the first part of His work towards a grander plan, and then imagine great and amazing things happening-- great and amazing things fabricated in my own mind. I know that God's plan is far greater than I could ever imagine, and that I probably won't necessarily see it from this side of heaven. I will give you two examples, one good and one not so good.

1.  The stars seemed to align just right at my one day at the conference this weekend. I got great feedback and even an opened door...I was quick to be in awe of God's mighty hand in what I wanted all along- to get my book noticed. But what if that was it? What if the whole experience was to come out with some confidence that I didn't have before? What if it was just a learning time, and not a step on the mighty road of publishing? Am I okay with that? Hm.

2. I am sick as a dog. I know it's for a great reason- the growing baby inside of me- but still...I'm sick, sick, sick. My attitude stinks, my motivation to get normal household chores done is nil, and most days I want to sleep until this baby is ready to be born. Yes, God's plan in the end is awesome, because I will have a fourth child, but what about now? What in the world am I suppose to be learning right now, in the trial?
I am too sick and annoyed to find the good in this time.

I have started a new Bible study, FORGOTTEN GOD by Francis Chan. The first day already proved to be an amazing beginning to a wonderful ride. It's all about the Spirit. How much do I forget that I have the Spirit inside of me, the same Spirit who rose Christ from the dead? How easily I get caught up in the world around me, the blessings and curses, and not the divine power that has made me a new creation! Hopefully at the end of this study, I will handle things a little better, I will not be as much of a dreamer, but a believer...and I will not be as much of a complainer, but a true, day-in-and-day-out worshipper.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

A Dreamy Writer's Conference

I didn't know what to do with myself. I had a good two hours to kill, and my emotions were at the back of my throat. I awkwardly walked around the hotel lobby, noticing groups of writers, editors, agents chatting, after spending two days together. I arrived that morning. Two days after the conference started, and was leaving a whole day before it ended. I was a fish out of water. A stay-at-home mom dressed as a professional. doubts were high and I lost my focus.

After finally perching myself at Starbucks, with a Vivanno in hand, and a recently purchased book from the conference bookstore, I decided I would "hide" until I met my crit partner for lunch. Ah, but God knew better. He knew that I would regret being a recluse at the conference. I had hoped to learn in the classroom environment, but I knew that a lot was to be learned from the people around me. And before I could even crack my book open, two vibrant women waltzed into Starbucks, and noticed my "first time attendee" ribbon.
"Would you like to have coffee with us?" Sure! I couldn't believe how welcoming they were. We sat down, met several other authors, aspiring writers, and talked. A published author gave me wonderful advice, encouragement, and made me feel so welcomed. She reminded me that God did not create a spirit of timidity, but one of confidence. I told her that I felt like a fish out of water, and she did all she could to encourage me otherwise. She was amazing! I can't wait to read her book, An Irishwoman's Tale, which I quickly bought after we spoke.

I walked into lunch to sit with my crit partner and an amazing editor, with a new dose of confidence! My pitch for my novel went well. The editor was a friendly, encouraging lady, and gave us some great advice!

The rest of the day was wonderful, (except for my constant fight with morning sickness and headaches). My appointment with an agent went great, and we discovered common ground with Texas Aggie Landscape Architecture! Funny how my degree follows me even though I don't work in that field anymore! :)

To top off the great day, my best friend drove down from Ohio with her three kids. My hubby, me, and the boys ate dinner with them. It was fun to see the kids get along, and play with the baby, who is growing like a weed!

My only regret from the whole affair, was that I didn't sign up for the full conference, and I felt like I was missing something as we drove home today. Oh well, there is always next year! I will probably be the first to sign up for that one!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

My Little Animation!

Notice the POOL of ranch dressing he helped
himself to when I stepped out of the room...
for a second.
Have you ever seen Ponyo? It's a cute, strange little movie. The boys and I have grown an appreciation for director Hayao Miyazaki ever since My Neighbor Totoro  became a family favorite. I just realized today though, as Ponyo is on the t.v. in the background, how nice it is to see an honest interpretation of a young child's wild, carefree behavior!
Just today, my three year old gave me a run for my money when I went to our Women's Bible Study Kickoff at church. He ran around in circles, jumping up and down, begging for donuts, and would drop to his knees while I held his hand! Can we say frustrating??? But just now, I imagined him as a little male version of Ponyo. (Except she doesn't get so whiney!)
It has been such a colorful year with my three year old! Maybe it's because he has older brothers and he has to make himself known, or maybe he has inherited some extra "boydom" from his daddy...needless to say, I have had my hands VERY full with him, and I have had LOTS of laughs too!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Love God. Love People.

 At church today, the pastor talked about God's greatest two commandments- to love Him, and love others. He talked about Christ's company with taxpayers and sinners, and His simple focus on erasing their sins. Christ loved others period.
Right after church, I watched a newscast about a Christian church in Memphis that is welcoming a neighboring Islamic center. It was so touching to hear the pastor say, "We believe in Jesus. He tells us to love our neighbors." They welcomed them to the neighborhood with a friendly sign, and even offered temporary use of the church's space. The pastor didn't say he believed the same as they did, he didn't act like he'd compromise his own belief, he just followed what Christ would do, and loved his neighbor. Yes! This my friend, is GRACE. You love first! You reach out and be Jesus with skin on! Without expecting anything in return. The pastor did say the muslims were very appreciative and friendly.
 We don't hate and turn our backs on others, we love them regardless of their belief, appearance, standard. That's how you influence the world for good, right? Soften your heart and others will feel the love!

Have any of you felt that growing up and being more in-tuned to the true doctrine of Christ, has given you the chance to be more emotionally expressive, to reach out to others in an influential way?

Friday, September 10, 2010

On the Brink of Friendship!

This is our amazing Steering Team! So passionate and inspiring!

"Make new friends, but keep the old, one is silver and the other's gold."

This Girl Scout song is going to through my head this morning as I reflect on our awesome MOPS Kick Off from yesterday. It was amazing. We had twice as many women show up than last year's, and I almost needed a megaphone to quiet them so I could talk! Friendly chatter everywhere!
We had a lot of old faces and a lot of new, and the year looks promising for many relationships to build and/or deepen. 
It's so important to have this community of moms in my life. It gives me humility if I am too proud, or confidence if I am too insecure. Along with my peers, our amazing mentors encourage, delight in us, and give us perspective! God's hand moves mightily among these relationships, and I am still 100% sure that this ministry is ordained by Him.
My husband reminded me of this that morning. It seems like my mornings get especially crazy on MOPS mornings, sending me into a frazzle and giving me doubts in the smooth running of the meeting. One year, we even had to cancel because of torrential floods- in the desert of Texas! What??
Well, yesterday, everything was going fine, until the last minute...the stinkin' dog wouldn't come inside, and the boys piled in the car too late. On top of that, our neighborhood entrance was backed up because of road construction, and it took a several minutes just to get out. Well, of course the boys were tardy for the first time this year, and I was in tears thinking, "why this day, of all days?!" But with a quick phone call to hubby, he reminded me that "I should be privileged at the enemy's attack, he knows God's hand is in MOPS, and he's trying to stir things up!" Yes! Thank for that! 
So, needless to say, the morning was perfect! I couldn't believe how much of a "bang" we started off with, and I am excited for next week and what we have in store! 
Appropriately, this first month's topic is "Around The Coffee Table With Your Girlfriends." We are going to celebrate friendship! We are starting a new year with new tables and new friends! So much is waiting to be done in the lives of these women, and I am so privileged to be a small part of that! 

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Accountability Post

So blogging has been pushed to the back burner lately. My battle with morning sickness has been all consuming, I'm frantically trying to finish my novel before the big writing conference next week, and MOPS kicks off tomorrow! Life suddenly got busy. I love it!
It's nice and cool outside, almost too cold for shorts. But I'm wearing them because I am determined to squeeze in a work out today! I have a gym membership and if I didn't, I doubt I would care that much...although, I forgot that being pregnant doesn't just affect my belly!
So, to add to my long to do list, I am going to put 'working out' as priority number one, and this little post will hold me to it!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

A Dreamy Belly Laugh

As I write this, I am listening to my little boy belly laugh in his sleep. Wow. What a spectrum we've covered today! If you read the previous post, you will see how much I've fretted over his disappointment in kindergarten. And now he's giving me hope.

Thank you, Lord.
Thank you for letting me here one of the best sounds in the world- his sweet belly laugh. And most of all, his sweet belly laugh while he's dreaming. His spirit is not broken, he's still happy at heart. Thanks for that.

I needed that.

My heartbreaker

Who would have thought that my over-excited, ready to start school five year old, would be so absolutely miserable the third week of school? It's as if he ran full steam ahead into a giant brick wall, and he can't manage to pick himself up, shake it off, and move forward. A few of his complaints have been:

School is too long.

Nobody wants to be my friend. (heartbreaker!)

So and so is picking on me. (seriously? in kindergarten!!)

I want to learn to read but we are learning shapes I already know. (already starting to "homeschool" this one)

It's difficult for me to step back and look at the big picture...this too shall pass! I want to fix it for him! Especially the second one...don't you wish you could just show up on the school playground and introduce your child to everyone, "Hey, this is a great kid here. He loves having friends. Will you please be his?"
I know that all this will build character for the little guy, but my husband and I are covering him in prayer as if his life counted on it! I got in the car today after a melt down on my part, and the song below (by MercyMe) came on the radio station:

To everyone who's hurting
To those who've had enough
To all the undeserving
That should cover all of us
Please do not let go
I promise there is hope

Hold fast
Help is on the way
Hold fast
He's come to save the day
What I've learned in my life
One thing greater than my strife
Is His grasp
So hold fast

Will this season ever pass?
Can we stop this ride?
Will we see the sun at last?
Or could this be our lot in life?
Please do not let go
I promise you there's hope

You may think you're all alone
And there's no way that anyone could know
What you're going through
But if you only hear one thing
Just understand that we are all the same
Searching for the truth
The truth of what we're soon to face
Unless someone comes to take our place
Is there anyone?
All we want is to be free
Free from our captivity, Lord
Here He comes

 I tell my son to remember, when he's lonely at school, Jesus is right there with him. He knows it. He prayed it last night.
 Give it a couple months right? The longest months ever...

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Just So Sick!

It's all relative. Really. I just can't always keep a smile on my face even though I am so thankful for this pregnancy. Morning sickness has brought me to my knees. Somedays are okay, but then there are other days where I just want to cry-- today is one of those days.
My three boys have so much energy, and I  can't let my green face get in the way of my number one job. I am single mommin' it for the evening, so I have to get dinner for them and take my oldest to his first flag football practice. I am so excited that they have things to do, because I am in no way an "entertainer" these days...but even thinking about standing in the heat while my football player practices his heart out, makes my stomach churn double time. Lord give me strength!
So this little bean inside me has been prayed for, hoped for, and loved abundantly already, I just wish my body was a little more tolerant of HCG!