Wednesday, October 30, 2013

The Wounds of A Child's Heart

My little girl has discovered the joy of superheroes. A friend made her a sweet purple cape and she's been jumping off the hearth yelling, "Super Geurl" at the top of her little lungs. It's the sweetest thing ever...well, since the three boys were in this same stage.
"Mama, you do it!" is a phrase I hear often when she wants me to play with her and her babies, draw her a picture, play with play-doh...basically any time she is needing a friend, I am it.: ) (Praising God as I write this because I know these days will go by fast, even though I've let the monotony get to me lately).
So, Super G-e-url wanted Mama to jump off the hearth with her. So I did. And I yelled, "Super Mom," and she giggled. 
And we did it again.
And again. (Besides superheroes, she's also in that stage of repetition that has no end).
The joy was contagious and I didn't mind indulging her in the constant jumping...heck, I needed the exercise! But when my seven year old came up, motioned for me to hear a secret, I leaned in smiling and a little out of breath. He whispered,

"Remember when I used to always ask you to play Sonic-mom and you hardly ever did."

His whisper may as well have been shards of glass to my mama-heart. They were sharp, hostile even in the hushed tone, and his eyes were wide with accusation.
At first, I didn't know what to say. He spoke of a time when he was just three years old and was obsessed with Sonic the Hedgehog. And then, I DID remember when he would ask me to play Sonic-mom, and I'd say yes, and he'd run off as happy as can be and I thought it was the easiest entertainment ever.
But what I didn't realize is that something I did or didn't do at those moments, hurt him.

The thing is, in my grown up mind, I wanted to say, "don't be so sensitive.You have a poor memory, because I said yes all the time and you'd run off and play without me."

But how can I tell a seven year old boy that his feelings don't count? I can't. Because they do count. And they are an indicator of a wound--no matter how small--that only I can help heal four years later.

Whether he had expected me to follow him and play my role as Sonic-mom, and when I didn't he stuffed it down and hid his emotion (very typical of his personality) without me knowing...Or I said no one too many times, to a little boy who had two older brothers and their school and activities stealing away attention. I don't know, but it's real and it's something he's held on to. 

That night of joyous superhero role play, revealed a crossroads in his heart and our relationship.

I could've shrugged him off, or worse, scolded him for thinking such terrible things about his mother who has always tried to be here for him. I could've slathered him in guilt and shame for being so ungrateful.

Think of the adult that he might become with that message filling his heart?


I could wrap my arms around him, bite back my excuses, and say, "I am so sorry you feel that way. I love you and you are so important to me. I wish I could have played Sonic-mom with you more." And be sure to slather him with the salve of forgiveness and worth.

After doing the latter, I have become more aware of the chances to spend with him. I take every snuggle and I go check on him, just because. "Super Mom" can't just settle with managing a group of four, but she must be sure to nurture each child as if they were her only one. It's not easy, but it's necessity. And perhaps, if anything else, his little whisper was a red flag for me to step it up!

I am going to mess up as a mom. I have. And I am one hundred percent sure that I am going to in the future. It's just my human, fleshy, mama way. But if I can keep my ears and heart open to my babies, then maybe, the road ahead will be one of healing, and not one of future regret.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Jesus and Halloween

Wow, if you've kept up with my blog or Facebook, you might tell that I've been struggling with this holiday a lot. My husband sent me this post, and it gives such a life-giving, victorious perspective of Halloween.

Friday, October 25, 2013

TGIF: A Renewed Tradition on Halloween

Moving to the Midwest over four years ago, has been one of the most rewarding decisions in our married life. The culture of family, friends, and community has blessed us so much. There are few things I miss, besides friends and family...and food, from our native Texas residence, but something I am always reminiscent about this time of year, is the concept of Fall Festivals. Yes, the Midwest celebrates harvest with pumpkin patches and hay rides, but Texas used Fall Festivals as a great Halloween alternative. They took place in churches with a consistent requirement of God-honoring fun and fellowship, without the Halloween focus. Around here, Halloween is alive and well, even my son's youth group postponed a field trip so that the kids could participate in "Beggar's night, aka trick or treating".

So, just because my church doesn't host a fall festival, doesn't mean we can't re-instate the concept in the warmth of our home! This last day of October, we're going to have a fun Fall celebration in a glowing house promising treats for the little "beggars" who will knock on the door, and delicious sweets, snacks, and entertainment for the kids inside! My kids always love a party, and having another family join us will make the celebration of God's harvest season all the more exciting!

How about you? As a Christian, has Halloween been an issue of conflict in your heart and family? I have wrestled with my opinion for about sixteen years now. This year, I was convicted to write a parable about what I think, and would love to share it with those who have similar struggles with this holiday as me. Send me a message if you'd like to read it: ad5000cd (at) yahoo dot com. (You might also like to read Wednesday's post on conviction vs. love, so you understand why I didn't post it on my blog.)

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

To Convict or To Love?

So, I have been convicted. And it is strong and counter-cultural and even unpopular among most of my Christian friends. When it came to me, I found my creative juices stirred up and I wrote a parable. The parable was passionate, blatant, and a bit shocking. I felt a great desire to share it with everyone I know via my blog, because I knew that I truly believed in what the parable portrayed.

As I do with most things I write, I sent it out to my dear writer friends, my husband, as well as to a close friend who lives nearby, and a sweet mentor. And, while I expected an overwhelming “YES, you should post this”, I only got that from about half of the people. What I got was a lot of resistance from those who I highly respect. And not because they disagreed with me, but they thought I was taking a great risk at offending others.

At first, I poo-pooed them. I said, “if someone's offended, then maybe they need to be. This is a conviction that is God-given. Perhaps I need to rustle some His name?”

For days, I've been trying to decide what I should it or not? I haven't felt completely settled with it. And today, I figured out why. When I began to write a “disclaimer” note before I posted, to all my real-time friends to warn them about my radical opinion and to assure them I wasn't pointing fingers...I realized...
That's exactly what I was doing.
Pointing fingers in a creative way, using my own conviction to convict His name.
I know in my heart, that Christ first and foremost wants us to continue in relationship with those He has put in our lives. My seed of unrest about the whole thing was planted as a different type of conviction—one that warned me that using the internet to “shout out” my conviction of radical opinion might be used by the enemy to sever dear, dear relationships with those around me.
And it's not about my friends being unable to handle my differing opinion, but it's about my words causing them to stumble every time they see me—does she judge me for doing the very thing she is against? It's not my conviction, but is she posting this to hint at something?--when I hadn't even mentioned it to them to their face!
Insecurity in a relationship can lead to the one thing God does NOT want in a good friendship... distrust.
The Good Shepherd leaves the flock to find the one. Every one of us count to God. If posting my opinion for all to see is only based on my trying to force conviction on someone,  is it worth turning even ONE person away from relationship (real-time, especially)?
I could more effectively grow a relationship with my friends by speaking about such convictions in the intimacy of a good conversation, giving them a chance to speak for themselves.

Funny, but I came across this quote from Billy Graham during all my soul-searching this week. Now, I realize God had been dropping hints all this time...and I'd refused to listen.

"It is the Holy Spirit's job to convict, God's job to judge and my job to love."

While my conviction is one of love, my love for God and His will for my life, it's not my job to convict.

And even though my past and future posts may convict people, it's God's conviction through my writing, and trying to convict should never be my motivation for writing them. A cop-out? No.  My motive should be to show God's love by revealing the struggles and triumphs of this mama in an authentic way. God can do the rest.

It's all about the heart isn't it? If I could honestly say that I was posting out of love, then that would bring about a different conclusion all together. This journey in Christ is not for the faint at heart, but those whose hearts are willing to wrestle their ways out of trials of every kind!

Side note: Just after I wrote this, I spoke with a good friend who filled me in on a Bible study lesson I had missed. Um, yeah. It was all about judging and social media...pointing fingers and writing opinions. Wow, God! I should have gone to study!

Monday, October 21, 2013

The Writer's Alley

I am blogging over at The Writer's Alley! It's about the fruits of the Spirit from a writer's perspective, but really, it could apply to any walk! Come on over!

Friday, October 18, 2013

TGIF Birthday Celebration

Seven years ago, I cuddled my third baby boy. It was a very special day, especially since my mom came into town a couple of days before saying, "I am here now, you can have that baby." And you know what? He was born on her birthday.:)
Snuggling their baby brother

Just as we celebrate our Savior's birthday bright and early in the morning, we do the same for our family birthdays. The kids wake up and run downstairs, the brothers (and sister if she is up) eager to watch the birthday kid open his presents.
"Snuggling" their seven year old brother

I love pouring love and gifts onto my children. But most of all, I love watching their siblings pour love and excitement onto them! We have a school day sandwiched by birthday celebration today as we have his party with friends this evening. This is a very special Friday in my book! TGIF!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Hard to Love People

God has been weeding my heart a lot lately. If I could think of one thing that I've carried consistently over the years, it is a critical spirit. Actually, I look at our media, and it seems that I am not a minority in this. How easy it is for us to point fingers at others.

I blogged about my son having an annoying kid in his class a while ago. Even at the tender age of eight, we humans criticize and choose who to love and hate. Recently, God has taken his hand and tugged hard at the weed of criticism in my fleshy core. It hit me when I read some Scripture that I've read a hundred times, but in my current Bible study certain characters were pulled from the passage (Matt. 1:7-16). And these characters were in God's plan, they did God's will. Our society might have names for them--like hooker, tramp, cheater, adulterer, alien, but the Bible calls them as they are seen by God: Descendants of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Rahab, Ruth, David, Jezebel. Old Testament brokenness that pushed through the muck and the mire, and in the end, found redemption in the God of Israel. Even earning places in the blood line of God's Perfect Son.
So when I, a professing Christian, choose to not love or care for someone based on their current choice or sin, then I am caving to a narrow-minded religion, and not acknowledging an omniscient Being who knows the road ahead.

Beth Moore says it best: 
"When He who was, who is, and who is to come sees each one of us, He sees who we were, who we are, and who we will become." 

My critical spirit is quick to rise up in me and turn up my nose or judge others for their choices or mistakes. Do I dare play God in a very unlikely, godless way? Because, truly, our God is one of mercy and foresight. He knows how each of our stories are going to turn out. Even the hooker, even the drug addict, even the stay-at-home mom with nineteen kids and counting. God knows the outcome.

Grace is for the present. Not for the only-if.

It all makes sense now. To love your enemies. Because even they might be in God's eternal plan. Even they might be someone I call brother or sister one day. I don't know how easy it might be to one day love those hard-to-love people, so I'll start now, and give room for God to be God.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Pregnancy and Infant Loss Day: October 15

I rarely like to think back and linger on the pain, but today, I can't help but link to a post after the loss of my baby at 8 weeks (gestational).
December baby, I remember you.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Family Spontaneity--Even On A School Night

When I pulled up in the driveway after a school event on Monday night, I'll admit I was a little annoyed that my kids and husband were sitting on the bed of his truck dangerously close to bedtime routine.

But they looked so cozy, with the outdoor heater warming their dangling toes, and their eyes bright with starlight and excitement. They had piled into the truck's bed, procrastinating the responsibility of a school night, all in hopes of seeing a supposed meteor shower that my son learned would occur that night.

It was hard, at first, to not complain. But I couldn't be "that mom" who spoils the fun, especially when the fun spurred from a science lesson at school.

With pillows and blankets, we crammed like sardines (pardon the cliche, but it fits perfectly), and looked up at the glorious pin-prickings above.

There was a moment of pure joy, knowing my family was close, cuddling in that truck bed, none of us wanting to be anywhere else but together side-by-side...
Or rather, arm atop arm, hip crushed in a thigh, elbow in a rib...yeah, the joy-filled moment was fleeting as whining erupted like the expected shower of stars (which we never did see).

Regardless, that small decision of spontaneity will remain a delicate memory for my children, my husband, and me. If I had raised my voice and spoke my irritation immediately, how crushing that moment would have aggravating for my defining of the typical party-pooper mom that I can be.

Setting aside my agenda to revel in a moment is hardly a natural tendency, but it is one of grace that leads to blessing if I let it. That brings me to my suggested family activity for this TGIF post:

Be spontaneous when least expected!

Feel the rush of abandon alongside your kids as they witness their parents breaking the "rules", every once in a while, in the name of FAMILY FUN!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Love! Because He says so.

Lately, my son has been complaining about a boy in his class. According to my eight year old, the culprit is a bully, a big baby, and a big nuisance. When I listen to the scenarios that caused my son dismay, the kid does sound a little annoying, but is by no means a bully.
In the past, I have listened to what other mamas say to their kids who have conflicts, and I can recall two different camps on this:

1. Be polite and walk away. You don't have to be anyone's friend, and you don't have to like them. So do your best to ignore it.


2. Perhaps the kid is needing a friend? Perhaps you could be his friend? Maybe if you tried, he would soften.

I will confess, I have tried both of these approaches. To the first, my son replies, "But I tried! He won't leave me alone." And to the second, he says, "I hate him! I don't want to be his friend. He's my worse enemy!"

It was then that I cringed. It was then that I tried to stuff down the mama weakness of finding a way to appease him and make him happy at school, and instead, search my heart for words that would not only be a comfort, but wise.

And you know what? Wisdom and comfort don't always go hand in hand. To think I would want my kid to be comfortable and content by surrounding himself with only the kids he "likes", goes against the very wisdom that true Christianity teaches (and I say "true" because, unfortunately, the media displays a multitude of "Christians" who act out of hate and us a very bad, love-less name).

Above ALL ELSE, God calls us to LOVE. That. Is. It. To love Him, and to love others (Matt. 22:36-40). After all, love covers a multitude of sins (1Peter 4:8). Christ even went so far as to say, "love your enemies" (Matt. 5:44). And if you look at the historical context of the Bible, you will see that the enemies back then weren't just annoying kids on a school playground, but evil, sinful, men who would beat and laugh and scorn, and hang an innocent man to die on a cross. If Christ told the people of that day to love those kinds of enemies, then why would I let my fleshy mama nurturing kick in and get my kid off the hook for loving a hard-to-love kid at school? Just so he can be happy and have fun with the kids that matter to him?


In my Beth Moore study on the book of James, I am beginning to understand the seriousness of sin in the hearts of a believer. We can't mix the faith with the worldly view. We can't live according to the world--pushing our kids toward entitlement, popularity contests, and self-gratification--and call ourselves lovers of the Holy God of the Universe. How can we love in spirit and hate in flesh? It doesn't work that way. It goes against the very reason Christ came to die for us-- to establish a covenant not based on what we can do, but HOW WE LOVE.

It really is all about love, isn't it? We can get caught up in parenting, social networking, and politics and acquire a spirit of animosity, pride, and hatred, suppressing any likeness to that of Christ. 

It makes me shudder to think about all I've done to contribute to giving our Savior a bad reputation. One of exclusivity and conditions. Just like the first camp of mama advice above.

But, there is hope. And my faith bestows grace and mercy each and every day. I will be confident in my stance to my child, now. I will not only side with camp #2 above, but teach him that love is the only way, not ignoring and hating. I won't wonder if I am doing the right thing. Love really is the most important thing.

"And now these things remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is LOVE." 1Corinthians 13:13.

Monday, October 7, 2013

The Writer's Alley

Today, I am blogging about ending writing breaks over at The Writer's Alley. I have started writing away on my current book after a long writer's break. It is fun to get to writing again! 
Hope you have a great Monday!

Friday, October 4, 2013

TGIF! Family FUN night!

Every Friday I am going to try and post an idea or a fun family activity to do with your own family. Hopefully, some of you will also give your own ideas to the discussion each time, so us mamas can treasure them away for the next "what-to-do" day.

This school year, we began to wonder if our time as a family would die in the face of after-school activities. We worried that we would lose the precious time left to really enjoy each other as a family. Besides redefining sports practices and games  as "family outings", we have also established "Family Night".

Each week (almost), we look at the calendar and choose one night where there is no conflict, or there is a chunk of time to be intentional. Family night is sacred...we don't give into optional activities and forget about family night. This week, our family night happens to fall on the weekend...TONIGHT to be exact! It's my six year old's turn to choose our activity (we rotate through), so upon his request, we are going to have an
All we need is:

A basement
Old couch and pillows
Chairs, table to climb under or on
various "obstacles"
a stop watch
a camera
and a family!

I expect our house will be loud and wild this evening!

So, what fun family activities are you doing this weekend? What ideas have you heard about or want to try? Let's spur each mama on to bring FUN to their family time!

Also, let me know if you want to be entered in the drawing for October!

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

ReDesign and A Drawing!!!!!

Time to Redesign at Sparkle?
Some of you may have noticed that I've spruced up my blog this week! I can't help but think of one of my favorite movies 13 Going on 30, where the movie ends with a big push for a redesign of Sparkle Magazine.
Well, I wanted to add a little sparkle to the blogsphere and REFOCUS this blog. Today I will officially establish my blog as a Mama's blog with regular scheduling, and some writer ventures on the side. ;) I want to kick this off with a fun drawing opportunity, so keep reading!!!

First, here's the schedule:

  • Writing Every other Monday (Next one is this coming Oct. 7th): Click on the tab "The Writer's Alley" and take a peek at my group writing blog. Besides Mondays, swing by there every day to find great inspiration and wisdom from my fellow Alleycats also.

  • Walk With Me Wednesdays: Come by and find some of my heart poured out while I TAKE IT ALL IN as a woman along this road of motherhood and faith.

  • Thank Goodness It's Fridays: TGIF! I will post a quick fun idea of something my family is going to do together over the weekend, or a wish list activity we hope to do soon! I hope to help other mamas get their creative juices flowing, and encourage comments for ideas to make our precious family moments all the more intentional and special!


color enhancement of desaturated photo
What Mama doesn't want a great photo or card to capture their beautiful family or a precious moment to frame and display??

 You can WIN your choice of FREE photo editing on your favorite family snap shot...whether it be a quality spruce up, black and white conversion, a color enhancement (as shown), or sepia...

Christmas card example

 A custom holiday photo card design! With your photo as the centerpiece, you'll get a beautiful memory to share with family and friends this coming season.

HOW to enter the drawing?

There are a few ways to qualify for the drawing...each of them requiring a quick comment to let me know you've don't forget to comment! Here are the options:

1.  FOLLOW this blog! With one click to the right column where my followers are listed, you can become a follower and keep up with my weekly posts! Once you follow, let me know in the comments section of my current post.

2.  LIKE my Author Page on Facebook!  Are you a writer too? Interested in keeping up with my writing venture? Go to the tab "My Author Page" at the top of this blog, and you will be redirected to my author page. You'll get a glimpse at my life as an aspiring author. Again, let me know in the comments page.

3.  Send a Mama or Writer friend to do one or both of the above! You'll get your own name entered TWICE for referring, and your friend will also be entered in the drawing...(don't forget to let me know in the comments!)

I am super excited to get a schedule going around here! It seems that so much life whizzes by, and when I don't stop and pour out my heart a bit, little moments of lessons and joy get lost amidst the chaos! Hoping this blog creates some space to TAKE IT ALL IN for all my fellow mama bloggers and my writer friends out there!

Thanks for stopping by!