“Then Jesus lifted up His eyes, and seeing a great multitude coming toward Him, He said to Philip, “Where shall we buy bread, that these may eat?”…Philip answered Him, “Two hundred denarii worth of bread is not sufficient for them, that every one of them may have a little.” One of His disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said to Him, “There is a lad here who has five barley loaves and two small fish, but what are they among so many?”… “And Jesus took the loaves, and when He had given thanks He distributed to those sitting down; and likewise of the fish, as much as they wanted.” John 6:5, 7-9, 11
Even though this is a familiar story to me, it came out of nowhere to hit me in the gut last week. I became very aware of Philip and Andrew’s different approaches to their dilemma. Philip was realistic in what it would take to feed the crowd- money they didn’t have. Andrew brought forth what they did have. Granted, it wasn’t enough to feed a crowd. He knew it wasn’t theanswer but he acknowledged what he had in his hand. I asked the Lord, “What do I have in my hand that I don’t even realize? Am I looking at what I can’t do or am I looking at the little that you’ve entrusted to me?”
Last year I wondered what the problem was with Darla coloring. Her cousin Pearl is 6 months older than she is and impeccable with a crayon. I didn't expect for Darla to keep up. Not only is Pearl older but she inherits from her parents this eye for perfection that Darla's parents definitely lack! Darla quickly loses interest in coloring; a few scribbles suit her fine. While I didn't expect her to be like Pearl, I did at least expect some interest!
Recently I have discovered why Darla isn't a coloring book kind of kid. After watching S. draw cartoon characters, with next to no instruction, this little 4 year old started whipping out all sorts of inventive pictures. Each has a storyline and characters. She isn't worried about specifics. Once the big idea is on the page, it's ripped off and piled on my desk with everything else that "is just for you, Mom!" Apparently she feels restricted and bored coloring something that has already been created. She wants to be the creator, which is why her new favorite accessory is a magna-doodle.
My niece Pearl is taking piano lessons. Her ability to focus and perfect a skill is causing her to excel far beyond a 5 year old level. She is so bent on 'getting it right' that the morning of her piano lessons she looks ahead at what will be introduced so she can practice what she isn't expected to know yet. She thrives in piano and now ballet lessons.
Last night I asked Darla if there is a class she wants to take in the spring. We talked about many options. I expected her to pick piano and ballet because she adores Pearl. Instead, Darla enthusiastically threw her arms open wide while declaring she wants to "act!" She added, "and maybe be on TV so people remember how funny I am!" Holy buckets, what do we have on our hands?! She then mentioned that soccer would be fun, too.
While watching Pearl and Darla interact yesterday, my sister Jasmine and I admired how unique our girls are. Jasmine is teaching Pearl that it's okay to fail; it's okay if it's not right the first time. I'm teaching Darla to follow through; don't neglect the details!
Our parents had to teach each of us the same things (I still cringe over details & Jasmine still can't let something go until she's mastered it). I've always been thankful Jasmine and I are different. We were taught by our parents to admire each others' strengths. We were never compared to each other and there was never any reason for competition. Our parents celebrated our unique giftings, encouraged us to pursue our interests, and never expected the same things from each kid. They encouraged Jasmine to quit college and attend beauty school with the same zeal they encouraged me to finish my bachelor's degree in elementary education- because they understood we were wired differently and created for different work. (A smart move, too...Jasmine's made far more money with her cosmetologist license than I ever made with my bachelor's degree. Oh, wait. I'm still paying that off.)
Watching Darla & Pearl made me evaluate the way I cheer my kids on & the way I challenge them to grow. May I always throw myself into whatever interests and passions are implanted in my household. May I encourage my kids' passions and interests so that they don't have to default to the 'norm'. May they serve God in individual ways- the ways He has created them to. May I always be surprised and delighted as I learn new things about my kids.
Well...hello swine flu and thanks for stopping by the week S. is out of town. All year I've rolled my eyes at the sensational news coverage H1N1 has received. I guess I technically can't say it's H1N1 that has invaded because I haven't had any of the kids tested...but I can say that even with Tylenol we've fought to keep temperatures below 102. Achy little bodies have been strewn on every couch, headaches and terrible coughs have kept Darla and Hudson up in the night. S. was teaching at a Luis Palau conference in Portland this week and I was determined to have a fun week with the kids to make the time go fast. 2 hours after S. left I looked at Hudson and wondered at his glassy eyes. 3 hours after S. left I pulled out the kleenex for his nose. 3.5 hours after he left I cuddled a burning hot little boy and sent them all to bed.
After two miserable, cooped up days I packed all the kids to spend a night at my sister's house. Everyone there already had the flu and were on the mend. We never miss the Country Music Awards so we gave a round of Tylenol to the troops, put them to bed by 7:30 and had a popcorn party in spite of the misery.
While I was there, Jasmine received a book from our adoption agency showing pictures of many children in their Ethiopian orphanage. Lance & Jazz have sent their dossier to Ethiopia and now will spend the next months waiting to be matched with a child. We are further behind in the process, also waiting...for funds. We heard from our agency that there have been quite a few new children at the orphanage, specifically little toddlers. Jazz and I lamented together: her because now a long stretch of time stands between her and a new baby. Me because money seems to be such an obstacle. We brainstormed a few new ideas for fund raising but overall I was weighed with discouragement.
On the way home with 3 bleary eyed, scratchy voiced children I kept surrendering it to the Lord, asking Him to lead and show us if we are supposed to be working hard to fund raise, if we are supposed to wait in faith, or if we're not seeing something that He's putting in front of us.
When S. got home from his conference he excitedly shared about having dinner with a good friend who always refreshes and challenges us. S. then handed me a card from our friend and his wife...with an enclosed check for $500 towards our adoption. I'm teary, humbled, excited, with renewed faith and motivation today. I'm watching people come forward to be involved in this journey: some with prayers, some with emotional support and their own adoption stories, and some with means to do it. Praise the Lord for His well-timed faithfulness.
***we're discussing doing a dessert auction in January for the next fund raising idea... just to put the bug in your ear :).
Whenever I hear someone speak of needing “me-time” I find myself bristling. I was analyzing this reaction yesterday as I read yet another article advising me about my needs as a mother. Why do I immediately suppress an eye-roll when I hear this term? I’m not opposed to having time in which I choose what I do. I have “me-time” when I work out at 5:15am. I have “me-time” when I brew the first cup of coffee & curl up in my rocking chair with my Bible and journal. I have “me-time” when I have a hot date with my husband. I have boundaries. I believe it’s essential to be healthy regardless of my role in life: to eat healthy and consistently, to exercise, to spend time at the Lord’s feet, & to have a growing marriage. So in this sense I suppose I’m an advocate for “me-time”.
Then it struck me. It’s the way I have heard “me-time” used, not the actual time of me being by myself. This is best illustrated by a moment this summer in which I noticed the contrast. To celebrate my birthday (& celebrate for the first time in over 5 years none of us was nursing a newborn) my sister Jasmine, my cousin Sommer, and I had a weekend at my Dad’s timeshare in Desert Canyon, WA. We were lying by the pool with our coffees when a group of people our age showed up. My sister knew one of the women so we started talking with them. The woman said, “So cool you get a girl weekend! Isn’t it so great to escape the kids? Oh-my-gosh I just so need these breaks or I go crazy!” They then proceeded to haul out their cooler of beers, stack of trashy magazines, and sat at the pool making fun of their husbands.
I vividly remember years ago coming across the verse that shouted to me because it described my desire so accurately, “Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith.” Philippians 3:8, 9. I immediately committed it to memory because it resonated so deeply with who I am.
It reminded me of the summer I turned 14. My closest friends were changing and I had tough choices to make. I knew if I attempted to go along with the crowd for the sake of clinging to these friendships, it would ultimately lead to compromise. I had hoped that I could choose to follow Christ and still go with the flow but the fork in the road was too distinct. I experienced the ultimate embarrassment of eating lunch alone as a freshman. I felt abandoned, angry, and exhausted at the inward battle going on. Yet it was at that age of 14 that I realized if God is who He says He is; I’d have to sacrifice my own comfort to be who He was calling me to be.
Just throwing myself out there a bit...