Tuesday, July 24, 2012

You only fail when you refuse to try

This afternoon, I took a stroll down memory lane - remembering time spent with little girlfriends when I was young.  Dressing up in Tiffany's mom's dresses, high heels, jewelry and accessories.  Shaving legs with Kasha.  Listening to music with Angel.  Long afternoons sharing secrets and whispering about boys in Kile's backyard.  Looking through Tiger Beat and Teen Beat magazines with Kim, professing our undying love for Don Johnson and Ralph Macchio.  Underwater tea parties at the pool with Marci and Michelle.  Experimenting with hair and make-up with Mandy.  Doing bedroom ballet and singing into hairbrush microphones with my sister.  Babysitting classes and crafts with my Girl Scout troop.  Cooking and sewing classes with girls in my Sunday school class. 

When girls gathered, we were pretty stationary - keeping only our hands and mouths moving.

However, as a mother of boys, I've learned that boys socialize differently.  Little talking, lots of movement.  Lots of sports.

And...  If excelling easily at sports isn't your thing, this kind of socializing can be difficult.

At the start of the summer, my husband and I agreed to invest in opportunities for Zach to grow in this area.  To grow in the knowledge of who and whose he is (so he doesn't feel he needs to find his identity in sport), while growing comfortable and confident in actively engaging with other kids.

We didn't enroll him in sports camps to groom him for super stardom.  We were not trying to give him a leg up or condition him for the next season.  We merely wanted him to have several opportunities a week to play with different groups of kids, trying new things, going outside of his comfort zone.

And he loved every minute of it.

Today was the last of all of his camps.

And, can you believe it ... he WON FIRST PLACE in the championship round of Junior Golf.

He was happy to simply have been at Junior Golf for the last eight weeks with his cousins, but to win a trophy?  He's over the moon.   And we are so proud of him.

Win, lose, or draw in sport - he's learned and grown a lot and made several new friends this summer.  As he returns to school next month, I pray that he will cling to the successes he's had this summer and remember that ... you only fail when you refuse to try.  And, it's just life.  Don't take it so seriously.  Have fun.  Laugh.  Get dirty.  Play.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

10 year old trend-setters

I often think about the facades people keep up and the secrets that are hidden deep in our hearts.  How it separates us from others, and leaves us feeling alone.

Leaves us feeling less....less worthy, less capable, less loveable, less acceptable, etc.

Today I enjoyed the company of two ten year old boys.  Both, complete strangers to me.  One in the morning at church.  Another in the late afternoon at the pool.

These boys set a shining example of vulnerable living, honest sharing, bold encouragement and faith.

As we discussed forgiveness in our small group at church this morning, one young man at our table piped up often.  "I've been left out at recess a lot of times.  It hurts my feelings, but I try really hard to forgive and be nice to them anyway."  As the young boy next time him said that he didn't have anything he needed to ask forgiveness for, he piped up again, "You mean you've never hit your brother?  Or talked back to your parents?  Or been the one who was a bad friend??"  His vulnerable sharing and gentle questioning paved the way for the other kids to honestly assess their lives, jot down things they need to forgive or ask for forgiveness for, and even share a little with the group.  As we bowed our heads, this young man asked if he could pray, and he offered up the prayer of  a confident, contrite man.  At the ripe old age of ten.

The young man I had the pleasure to meet this afternoon was a similar kind of awesome.  As Zachary climbed the ladder to the high dive, fear was all over his face.  As he stood at the top, bracing himself on the handrails, breathing heavily, squeezing his eyes tightly shut, and trying hard to convince himself to walk forward and jump ... encouragement came from a young boy on the ground.  "We've got all day, take your time.  I still get scared up there too, so I have to force myself to jump sometimes.  And it's fun.  Just a little scary at first.  But FUN."  As Zach climbed back down the ladder, the kid encouraged him to take a break and try again later.  This scenario repeated itself three times.  Zach going to the top, the young boy encouraging and confessing his own weaknesses, Zach climbing back down.  The forth time, the boy stood at the base of the ladder as Zachary hurried to the end of the board and jumped....before he could change his mind, exactly as the young encourager had suggested.  And the encourager missed it!  He told Zach that he was sorry he'd missed his jump, and Zach readily did it for him again.  And again.  And again.  And the boys cheered and celebrated with high fives and laughter. 

These two boys were such blessings to be around today, as they loved others through affirmation, truth, transparency, encouragement and even prayer.  Amazing kids.  As I lay my head down tonight, I will pray that they don't lose their heart for others, and that through their hearts their piece of the world will be changed.  I will also pray for the courage to be more like them, and for the wisdom to impart this way of loving on the hearts of my children.  It was through these two boys' words, actions and examples that those around them found the courage to be honest about who they are and where they struggle.

"Love your neighbor as yourself." Matthew 22:39

Saturday, July 21, 2012

My wild child

I'm feeling a special kinship to Tony Hawk's mom and John and Stasi Eldredge tonight.

A $4 set of knee & elbow pads found in a thrift store led to the purchase of an $11 skateboard at Target.

I had skateboards growing up, and have often wanted my kids to have them...  But, frankly, I didn't want to watch them break their wrists.  When they found the pads, Zach mumbled, "But I know you'd never let us have a skateboard."

To which I shrugged my shoulder and replied, "Why not?"  After all, I had skateboards and never got hurt.

My stunned first born paused and said, "But, don't you have to ask Dad?  I'm sure he'd want to discuss this with you first."

At that, the indignant feminist hiding deep inside of me tossed the pads into the cart and promised a skateboard.  Tonight.

As we shopped for a skateboard, I told them we should probably hit the bubble wrap aisle too.  My witty kids laughed, and then argued through the store over whose turn it was to carry it.  The moment it was paid for, they started ripping the packaging off.

When we got home, Zach had to change into his professional skateboarder uniform.  Tony Hawk shorts and his skater shoes.  Clothes have always mattered to Zach.

When he first approached getting on the board, he confessed to being scared.  "It's looks hard to balance.  And how do I get started?  How do I stop?"  After a quick tutorial - with Mom demonstrating in flip flops, using Zach as my spotter - he figured that if Mom could do it, he could do it.  And with Mom holding his hands for the first 30 seconds or so, he was off.

In no time at all, he was trying to control what direction he was heading.  Flipping it here and there...  Gaining confidence and speed.  Checking the scratches on the bottom after every stop.  You know, scratches are a sign of a board well-used!

Next thing I know, he's saying things like, "WORD!" and "Now, that's how it's done!"  He was a boy, excited about a new, thrilling, somewhat dangerous accomplishment. 

Zach is often so subdued that it's easy to forget that he was designed by God to be wild at heart.  But tonight, the wildness shone...  The wildness that is too often hidden under his skeptical, analytical, careful, perfectionist tendencies.  The wildness that is too often squashed by a nervous parent who doesn't want him to get hurt.

He had a blast tonight.  He went to bed with his chest puffed up and a huge smile on his face.  He was so proud.  So accomplished.

I am so glad my guys found that $4 bag of pads buried in the sports equipment bin at the thrift store.  And so glad that I didn't get in the way of him taking a walk on the wild side.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Too many problems?

One of the kids' devotion questions last week was, "Do you ever feel like you have too many problems?"

To be honest, I had to stifle a laugh as they both gave emphatic YESes.

My first thought:  "They're kids!  What kind of problems do they have?"

So, I asked them.

When teachers give too much homework.  When others won't play fair.  When my brother isn't being nice.  When I can't beat a video game level.  When I have too many things on my schedule.  When I'm not included.  When I have to play sports in the heat.  When I don't feel good.  When I'm in time out.  When we have to clean our playroom.

When you're going into kindergarten and 3rd grade, these are legitimate problems.  Too many problems.

Romans 5:3-4 speaks to this issue.

"We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance.  And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation."

Love it.  I've printed it and taped it to the wall.

As a runner, my endurance has been under constant scrutiny for the last year and a half.  I used to get hot or tired and just throw in the towel and walk, but as I've stayed steadfast in my training, my endurance has grown and I'm going faster and farther.  

On a broader scale, I see this playing out in my life and in that of my family...  We're quick to quit on things.  Quick to believe the lies that we can't.  Quick to believe that we're in over our head or outmatched.  Quick to believe that everyone else has it together and we don't.  Quick to believe that whatever-it-is is a bad idea.

This bit of scripture is so life-giving...

Problems - processing through them, exchanging the lies for truth, praying with faith and expectation, charging through fear, falling back on God's promises and provision - develop endurance.  And endurance builds character, and character strengthens hope.


Wednesday, July 18, 2012

God willing...at last

When I crawled out of bed this morning, the house was quiet and a cup of coffee was calling my name.  After filling my favorite mug, I grabbed my Bible, and headed for a quiet corner in the living room.

I'm not currently in a Bible study, so I didn't really know where to begin.  As I thumbed through 2,300+ pages, I quickly settled on Romans.

Romans 1:10 really spoke to me: "One of the things I always pray for is the opportunity, God willing, to come at last to see you."  

It struck me that Paul always prayed for this same thing, yet hadn't grown tired or hopeless.  And I love how "God willing...at last" almost sounds desperate - at least it does the way I read it. 

Boy can I relate to praying for the same things... often in desperation.  Pleading.

First I thought of fostering/adoption, and missions work.  It's been on my heart since I was a little girl, but it's not yet been a call on our family. 

Then I thought of my son.

And then I thought about a conversation I had Monday night with my friend who prays every night with her daughters that they won't have bad dreams.  Yet, the bad dreams come anyway.

As I thought about Paul, prayerful in his desires to one day go to Rome, his story came to mind.  He did eventually make it to Rome, but he arrived as a prisoner.  He'd prayed for safe travels, and did arrive safely ... but only after getting arrested, slapped in the face, shipwrecked, and bitten by a poisonous snake.

Talk about hiccups along the way!

I'm reminded that God does answer prayer, He just doesn't generally do so in our timing, nor does he do so in exact compliance what what we had in mind.

My thoughts return to my son.  My son who sometimes cries out, asking WHEN WILL IT BE EASIER?  The son who will one day be on the other side of things, saying to another little person, I know what it is to be scared, intimidated and insecure sometimes.  I know what it is to be a bit quirky.  I know what it is to get overwhelmed.  I know what it is to be sick of doctors appointments and frustrated with your body.  I know what it is to have to work hard at things that seem so easy for others.  And I know what it is to wait on answers to prayer...  Hang in there.  God is listening.  He has a plan.  God willing ... at last, things will work out.

Thursday, July 5, 2012


Last week I attended an exciting planning meeting for WHOLE Women's Conference coming up at the end of Aug.  I have the humbling privilege of leading break-out sessions where I get to share with as many women who will listen, the journey back to wholeness after the life-shattering pain of sexual abuse.

The conference is offering 17 breakout topics, each being led by 17 incredible women with a heart for God and for his children.  Women who will boldly share truth, hope, and encouragement, drawing on their own very real, very personal stories.

But first...  We must plan - with God's leading, of course.

Our first order of business is naming our breakout session and providing a few sentences to describe it.  Now...  I'm a woman who likes to talk.  And I like complete details, not snippets of information.  I generally fall on the more is more side when it comes to this sort of thing.  Yet, I only get a few sentences to describe my break-out session.

And then there's the break-out session itself.  Forty-five minutes.  As my friend Mary put it, "I can't say hello in 45 minutes!"  So...  To narrow it down, I keep asking, "What am I meant to say at this point in my life, to this audience?"

There's also a 10 second blurb in which I am to answer the question, "What does it mean to be WHOLE?"  I can gush over that for an hour, easily.

These are the things that wake me from a dead sleep in the middle of the night.  Things I think about throughout the day, every day, and even while I sleep, yet I can't quite sum any of them up in complete thoughts.

Good thing I have a month and a half.  And GREAT thing that I don't have to rely on me to come up with what to say...  I rest in the gentle assurance that God has a plan and can overcome every shortcoming I have.

In the mean time, I think.  And pray.  And blog a little.

Hmmm...  What does it mean to be WHOLE? 

Knowing who and whose I am.  Knowing that I am not defined by the sins I've committed or the sins committed against me, or what I think of myself or what others think of me, or by the things I have or the things I don't have ... but rather I am defined by what GOD says about me.  "I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well." Psalm 139:14.  "Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God." John 1:12 

Finally knowing what the ever-elusive parent / child relationship looks and feels like.  "A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling." Psalm 68:5   "He rescues you from hidden traps, shields you from deadly hazards.  His huge outstretched arms protect you - under them you're perfectly safe; his arms fend off all harm." Psalm 91:2-4 (Msg). 

Living a life free from shame and secrecy, knowing first-hand the strength of the human spirit.  "But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.  They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint." Isaiah 40:31 

Peace.  That feeling in your heart when forgiveness is real and the anger, fear and bitterness are noticeably diminished.  "Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.  Be kind to one anther, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you." Ephesians 4:31:32  “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30 

Living out the impossible - enjoying the sweet restoration of relationships.  "If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone." Romans 12:18  "Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates a brother or sister is still in the darkness.  Anyone who loves their brother and sister lives in the light, and there is nothing in them to make them stumble.  But anyone who hates a brother or sister is in the darkness and walks around in the darkness. They do not know where they are going, because the darkness has blinded them." 1 John 2:9-11 

Having had a sad life of despair completely exchanged for one filled with hope and joy.  "For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."  Jeremiah 29:11 

God is good...all the time.  Grateful to wake up today, free from the bondage of darkness and brokenness. 

"The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full."  John 10:10

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Sub 140

This is not at all my normal kind of post, and it's certainly not what I've been mulling around for the last week, but today is a day worth noting.  Just stepped on the scale - 139.8 (I totally wish I could make that flash in neon colors).  Honestly, I had completely surrendered to my weight gain last fall.  I even gave away this adorable red winter coat that I absolutely loved, but knew there was no way it would ever fit again.

Steph, I don't want it back...  I'll just be forced now to buy another one.  Ooooh - we can be twins.

When I registered for my triathlon last summer, I considered the Athena division for women over 155.  Right now I'm shaking my head at myself as, aloud, I'd questioned: "Does anyone my age weigh under 155?"  I had surrendered and, still being fairly slender and within my normal healthy weight range, I assumed that the older we get, the heavier we weigh.

When I impulsively started this weight loss journey on March 1, I weighed in at 161.  Pinch me!  I'm down 21.5 pounds and the shorts I'm wearing are completely falling off of me!  Back to school shopping is going to be really special this year...  Mama gets some new clothes too - only, opposite the children, mine will be smaller and not BIGGER.

Cori, thanks for casually complaining about the diet you were on...  Your complaining prompted our life change.