Thursday, August 26, 2010
Obviously, this will change as my children get older, since mine are still quite young, but I do want to be speaking scripture to them when we go throughout our day. But, to my shame, it's not always on my mind.
I've been praying for more opportunities and wisdom with my girls. God answers prayer. Today, my eldest was having an attitude issue. I was reflecting on my response to her attitude, and I realized I was probably making it worse with my lack of patience. Then, as we were driving to our appointment, this verse popped into my mind:
Pslam 19:14, "Let the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable in Thy sight, Oh Lord."
We had already talked about how God hates griping and complaining, but it wasn't getting anywhere with her. She was having a very rough time of it. So I brought up this verse, quoted it to her a few times, and we talked about what it meant. I even sang the little song I've learned using the verse to her. I focused on helping her see that her complaining words came from focusing on negative things in her mind and heart. I tried to remind her of all of the good things she had to be thankful for, hoping that would spark some positive thoughts in her mind. It's a process Mommy needs to work on too.
I can't say that it was an instant change or anything like that, but I was pleased to see God answer my prayer to bring scriptures to my mind. I'm learning with my eldest that she doesn't say much the first time someone talks to her about something spiritual, but sometime in the future it will come up again. She's thinking about it, even if it does not appear so.
Wednesday, August 25, 2010
In the summer before ninth grade, I took Spanish I through a summer school option our school offered. I quickly learned that I loved foreign languages. They made so much more sense than our crazy English language! In 10th grade I followed up on that love by taking Spanish II. Not only was I then able to learn more about this very logical language, but I was also able to skip my second high school year of PE class, because they were offered the same hour. It was a win-win situation! I was able to practice my Spanish-Speaking skills on our church’s annual summer trips to Mexico, as pictured below.
Tenth grade was the one year that I hated (violently) math class. Math had always been my favorite subject, and I actually went on to teach it as an adult, but in tenth grade we had to take geometry. Geometry, I still say to this day, is not math. It’s much more like science, and I hated it passionately. Geometry class was the first time I ever received anything lower than a B on a test. I was devastated. Yeah, I was quite a perfectionist.
The summer before 10th grade was the year I got my first job. I was only 14 at the time, but our school had a summer day camp every year, and I was asked to be one of the workers at it. I loved that job. Even though I already had the desire to be a teacher before taking the job, working with those kids every day solidified in my heart that desire. I worked day camp two summers in a row, and transitioned into a position in the after school program at our Christian school as well. When the size of the day camp shrunk to a point that they no longer needed my help a couple of years later, I was devastated. To this day I look back on that job with a tremendous amount of affection. This was my first job, and it was handed to me on a plate. God has been good, because throughout my life, I have only ever applied for two of my many jobs, and one of those I was a virtual shoe-in for, making the application simply a formality. Most of my primary jobs were literally handed to me.
I must have done well, because when school started the director of the before and after school program asked me to work with the lower elementary after school program. Here is a picture of me with my “kids.” I still remember many, if not all, of their names and personalities.
While I was in no way popular this year or in any of the following years, I think 10th grade was the time when I started being a bit more comfortable with who I was and where I fit in the social ladder. I had a “best” friend, August B, and several other friends as well. I had upper classmen who I looked up to and practically worshipped, and I had a bunch of teachers I respected who encouraging me to keep pressing on with my school work and grades. My parents supported me in most of what I tried, holding my hands when I failed to make a spot in the school play, and cheering me on when I performed in choir and band concerts.
At the end of 10th grade, my best friend told me she would be going to a new school the next year. She did not attend our church, and this was before the days of email and text messaging. Even though we promised to write and call each other, I was smart enough to know that it would not happen. I left 10th grade with a garbage bag full of stuff from my locker in tears, knowing I would “never” talk to my best friend again. In a way I was write. We’ve reconnected via facebook, I attended her graduation, and we’ve somewhat kept in contact over the years, but it was never the same. Little did I know that God would quickly fill that void in the next year.
Going through this project has been good for me as a mom. It has helped me remember that the things that seem so little now were very important to me. Losing my best friend in this manner crushed me emotionally, even though looking back on it the event doesn’t seem like a big deal. I pray that remembering will help me when my children face similar stresses in their lives.
Sunday, August 22, 2010
I wrote about our conversation a few weeks ago about becoming a Christian. Since that night she hadn’t brought it up again. I was praying for wisdom and guidance as to how to broach it again or if I should, but did not have peace about bringing it up again.
About three weeks ago we went to one of the local county fairs. She loves to go to the Child Evangelism Fellowship booth and get her face painted. A young lady went through the wordless book with her, a simple tool used to teach children about the plan of salvation using a book with colored pages but no pictures or words. Afterwards, I asked her what the girl taught her. She wouldn’t really answer me. At that booth she was given a little ball with the wordless book colors on it.
Fast-forward three weeks to this week. Earlier this week she found that ball and brought it to me. “Mommy, I can’t remember what green means.” When I realized what she was saying and asking, I asked her what the other colors meant. “Black is for a dirty heart with sin, red is for Jesus’ blood that washes sin, white is for a clean heart, yellow is for streets of gold, and I can’t remember green.”
I reminded her that green was for growing in Christ once you are a Christian. Just like a plant needs to grow, so we do as Christians, and we grow by learning more about God. Then that conversation was done.
Friday night it was time to go to another county fair. We were rather rushed to get ready, as the rain had made us think we weren’t going, but then we changed our minds at the last minute. I was sitting with Miss N while she finished her dinner. On a side note, I am learning as a parent that those times when you have the least amount of time are the times when they will want to have a heart to heart.
N: “Mommy, when can I become a Christian?”
Me: “Well, Natalie, to become a Christian you have to realize that you have sin in your heart and ask Jesus to be your Savior and take that sin away.”
N: “But I don’t know how to pray. I don’t know the words to say.”
Me: “Well, when you are ready to pray, I will help you.”
She went on eating for a while, then said, “Mommy, I’m ready to pray now.”
At this point I called Tim into the room. I felt that he should be part of the conversation. Once again I asked her about her sin and what Christ did on the cross for her. She answered the questions correctly. Tim wisely said, “Natalie, we are going to go to the fair now. When we get home, if you still think you are ready to pray or have any other questions, we can talk again.”
The fair was fun, as always, but I was a bit disappointed that the CEF booth wasn’t there. A local church was, and they gave her a wordless book bracelet. She explained all of the colors to the worker at the booth, which was pretty cute.
We got home very late, and I was thinking she had forgotten. We went through our bedtime routine, and at the very end when I was about to turn off the light, she said, “Mommy, I want to talk some more.”
Me: “About what?”
N: “About God and my sins.”
Me: “What do you want to ask?”
N: “I want to pray now.”
Me: “Well, Natalie, do you know that you have sinned?”
Me: “What did Jesus do to help you with that?”
N: “Washed them away.”
Me: “Well, He provided a way that you could have them washed away. Do you know how He did that?”
N: “By dying on the cross for our sins.”
Me: “But did He stay dead?”
N: No answer
Me: “Did Jesus stay dead or did God raise Him from the dead?”
N: “Jesus raised His own self from the dead. Remember, Mom, God and Jesus are different but all the same God.”
Me: “Yes, that’s right. So did Jesus stay dead?”
At this point I called Tim in and he asked her the questions again. She said she was ready to pray, and I helped her tell God she was a sinner and wanted Him to save her.
Afterwards, I explained that God promises to do that, and that nothing could ever take being a Christian away from her.
While this is a moment I will not likely forget, I was surprised how little I felt. Some of it was the late hour, but I thought I would have chills and tears when my child finally understood salvation. Rather, I was nervous that she was too little. I was nervous that she was doing something she thought we wanted, rather than something from her heart. My pastor later lovingly reminded me that “The faithful God who loves children is in control. Trust Him when you doubt yourself.”
Any doubts we had were proved wrong the next day. Anyone who says a child cannot see change from the Holy Spirit is wrong.
On Saturday we were babysitting four friends for the morning. As happens when you have numerous kids together, they were being a little bit unkind to one of the girls. Nothing major, just not letting her play the way she wanted. After a few minutes of this, I heard Miss N apologizing to L, her friend, “L, I’m sorry I was being mean, that wasn’t nice. You can play this way.”
Then Miss N came out to me and said, “Mommy, when I was being mean to L, I wasn’t being a Christian.”
I was touched by this outward showing of inward conviction. Of course, I corrected her phrase, “Well, yes, what you did was wrong and was not acting the way a Christian should, but nothing can make you not a Christian.” Then I thought for a minute and realized I could teach her something about sin and forgiveness and her guilty conscience, so I said, “You know, I heard you apologize to L and that was the right thing to do. However, as a Christian when you do something wrong, you also make God sad, and you should tell God you are sorry.”
She looked up at the ceiling and said, “I’m sorry God,” and ran off to play. Wow, much how do I love that kid?
Dear reader, if you have not accepted God’s gift of salvation, may I encourage you to? I was reminded tonight at church that salvation is simple, simple enough that a small child can fully understand and grasp it. I’ve seen this in my own life.
In Romans 3:23 it says, “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” Our wrongdoings keep us from attaining perfection, which is what is required for heaven. But, God knew this and sent Jesus to die.
Romans 6:23: “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
All you have to do to accept that gift is ask. Romans 10:9 “If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.”
It’s that simple. It’s that wonderful.
Thursday, August 19, 2010
My big two year old!
Favorite foods: I love to eat! However, I prefer fruit, especially strawberries and bananas, over any type of vegetable. In fact, the only “vegetable” I will eat of my own accord is corn on the cob. I really love to eat cereal with milk. I’m a master of the spoon. Sometimes I spill, though, and I have to say, “uh oh, momma, uh oh, momma, pill.” I also love to eat toothpaste. For some reason, mommy’s not so happy about that one.
Favorite words: Bike, ball, woof woof, neigh, momma, dada, papa, num nums (I said I like to eat), uh oh, and my newest one, People. If I am talking, you had better comment, or I will just get louder and louder until you do.
Art Style: I am quite the artist. I love to draw circles of color all over my paper. Sometimes mommy doesn’t understand what I want to do, so I will sit at the table and demand “write” until she gives me a writing utensil and paper. Markers are my favorite. I will often sneak when mommy isn’t looking and color my hands. I love to see all of the bright colors on my skin. Then I run to the bathroom and tell mommy “write” while holding my hands over the sink. I am very sad that mommy will not yet let me use scissors. I’m a big girl now, at two. Doesn’t mommy know I’m ready to cut?
Favorite person: Papa, by far. He is the one I ask about all day long. Either of my papas will do. When mommy is getting me ready to go in the morning, I have to ask “papa, see papa?” If we start driving towards papa’s house in Winnebago, I get very excited, and I get very sad if we don’t see papa. Daddy is my second favorite. When he comes home I get very excited. Other than that, I really love my big sister. But if she gets into my territory, I let the world know with a blood-curling scream. It’s kind of a love/hate relationship sometimes.
Clothing style: I love to get dressed, but my favorite article of clothing is definitely shoes. I know that shoes mean I can go outside, so I will put them on first and stand by the door waiting for someone to let me outside, even when I have no other clothes on. I’m not a fan of jeans. When you have big thighs like me, they just don’t fit comfortably. I prefer shorts or knit pants for sure!
Favorite book: I’m just catching on to this book thing. My big sister really likes them, and for a long time I didn’t see the big deal, but now I am learning that book time means mommy and daddy time! I love lift the flap books and books with “mimmie” (Mickey) in them.
Favorite drink: Pop! I love pop. Mommy doesn’t let me have it. But for my birthday, she bought this pop that tasted a lot like lemonade. I know it was pop because it was in a can. But it wasn’t bubbly like Mommy and Daddy’s pop. I loved it so much I didn’t want to open my presents. I was much more interested in having “more pop.” Since Mommy doesn’t let me have much pop, I would have to say my other favorite drink is juice.
Pet Peeve: I really hate it when Mommy tells me I can’t have my paci when I’m not in my bed. I mean really, what’s it going to hurt? She says she can’t understand my talking when I have “that thing” in my mouth. But I really love it. So, when she tells me to go to my bed, I give her a nice loud scream so she knows I am not happy.
Favorite hobby: Definitely playing outside! My “box” is my favorite. It’s filled with sand! Sand is very, very fun. I do not like the pool, though. It’s too big and bright and scary.
As we sponged off after our PE class run in the basement classroom, since our school’s newly built building had no gym or showers, everyone was scrambling to make themselves look beautiful again after the hard workout. A couple of girls were looking at a list written in a notebook. All of the seniors were working on their Senior Books and filling out the “most likely to succeed,” “first to get married,” etc., lists from their class. These girls, which were not in my circle of friends, were creating one of their own for my class. I sauntered over to get a look and try to be “cool” like them. As most would in my situation, I searched the list for my name. When I found it, my heart sunk to my toes.
There, about midway down on the list, was my name next to “most nerdy.”
I choked back the sobs as I finished getting dressed. I was NOT going to let them see me cry.
We went to English class next. Mrs. Fulbright was our teacher. She noticed something wasn’t quite right and simply asked me if I was OK. I started to sob. I was humiliated, not only by what was written, but also by the fact that I was crying in front of my classmates. I can’t remember why it meant so much to me, but Mrs. Fulbright simply placed a box of Kleenex on my desk, and continued teaching the class. I guess it made such an impact on me because she left me my dignity, instead of making a big deal out of my tears. From that day on, Mrs. Fulbright was one of my favorite teachers. Eventually she left to move elsewhere, but every time she came back to our church to visit, she always sought me out and told me how pretty I looked. Coming from a beautiful, classy woman, this compliment meant even more to me. She may never know how much her support meant to me, but it was something I will never forget.
I learned then how cruel teenagers could be. That same year I got what I thought was my first compliment from a boy. We were in choir, and he looked at me and said, “You look like a million bucks.” As my heart started to glow a little, he finished by saying, “All green and wrinkled up.” Again, my heart sunk.
On a lighter note, ninth grade was a time I probably gave my parents the scare of their lives. The summer before ninth grade I got my first pair of contact lenses. It was a good change, eliminating the non-cool bulky glasses that I had since about third grade. Every year our high school started with a retreat. It was a two or three day camp session with preaching and Bible study. While at retreat, I dropped my contact lens. When I found it, it was torn. I was crushed.
I called my mom on the camp’s pay phone. It took multiple tries to get a hold of her, and I never let the answering machine pick up because then I wouldn’t get my precious quarter back from the phone. Being before the days of cell phones, I had to wait until they were home. When I finally got an answer, I responded in tears, stating, “The worst thing that could ever happen to a girl happened to me.” I can only imagine what horrible things she was thinking on the other end of the phone. Then I blurted out, “I dropped my contact on the ground, and when I found it and picked it up, it tore!” I was in tears. I honestly thought they were going to be so mad at me! I think the way that I told them about it must have softened their anger a little. After all, I hadn’t been abused or hurt, so obviously a contact lens wasn’t that important. Looking back, it warms my heart to think that I thought of that as the “worst thing that could ever happen to a girl.” What a safe childhood I had.
Tuesday, August 17, 2010
2. My youngest can say, “cow.”
3. My youngest thinks giraffes are cows.
4. My oldest is quite horse crazy. She was given the entire toy store to pick out a present from her great grandparents, and she picked a stuffed horse and a box of plastic flocked toy horses. It’s not my fault. Honestly.
5. My youngest loves the men in her family. A lot. Especially her “Papa.” Uncle “JoJo” is pretty well loved too. Grandma will do when “Papa” isn’t around.
6. A castle blanket makes all things scary just a little bit more manageable.
7. My parents’ church has a bakery – often they have a “visitor’s reception,” which offers muffins or cookies and welcomes guests with the opportunity to meet the pastor. When Natalie came out of her class, she said, “Mommy, is the bakery open?” It made us all laugh!
8. Four and almost a half is the PERFECT age for a first Broadway theater performance, provided that performance is outside and includes a princess named Belle.9. The best part about said theater performance would not be the play, but rather the doll that was purchased and the “church friend” she saw. (Someone from my parent’s church that just happened to be in her Sunday school class.)10. My youngest knows what she wants. She picked a cash register when on the shopping spree with great grandma and great grandpa, and she has played and played and played with that crazy thing!
Tuesday, August 10, 2010
That was an interesting year. I really bonded with one particular girl in our class, and then she joined the cheerleading squad. I was never athletic, and I certainly wasn’t cheerleading material. I didn’t care to talk about what color socks the “squad” was going to wear and whether they would wear scrunchies or French braids. I wanted to be part of the group with my friend, but that just wasn’t me. The line between “popular” and “me” was drawn even further. Thankfully, that particular gal and I had one thing in common – we both were highly driven to get good grades, eventually graduating co-valedictorians of our little class. We always ended up as homework buddies, so our friendship sustained itself through the years of cheerleading.
The Junior High building was a very old, very run down high school building in the not-so-good part of town. Every day we met at the main Christian school/church building, climbed on a bus, and drove over to the junior high building. There we took all of our classes, then climbed back on the bus and came back to the main building for electives, such as band, choir, art, and home ec. The air inside that bus filled to the brim with the smell of hairspray as all of us girls tried our best to tame our wind-blown mops of hair at the end of the bus ride before we had to enter the world of (gasp) upperclassmen. There was also the daily drama of “who will let me sit by them today” as we got on the bus. I remember one person (I can’t remember who) actually made a schedule of who she would sit with so all of her friends would get a turn. Here’s a picture of me and my best friend at the time, August B, on the bus.
A couple of events stand out to me from that year. One is PE class. We had a real gym with showers at that junior high building, and so we were required to shower. None of the girls wanted to shower, so often we wouldn’t, which I am sure everyone knew by the smell after gym class. However, since the teacher was male, he could not enforce the rule with his physical presence in the locker room. I had some physical problems that made it difficult for me to participate in PE for the most part (mostly just excuses on my part, but he bought them with a doctor’s note). As such, I did not have to shower.
He, however, thought I would be a good tattletale. I was required to tell him any girls who did not shower. Then, some the girls started having a fit about showering at a particular time of the month, so we had to sign a book if we didn’t shower. Anyone who signed that book more than once week a month or who I reported didn’t shower more than once a month was in trouble, as once week a month should cover “that” time. As someone who already struggled to fit in, this role was a hated one, but I was too much of a goody-two-shoes not to fulfill it. Again, the line between “popular,” and “me,” was drawn, but this time a teacher forced it there.
Another time I was sitting in history class with Mr. M., a teacher I really liked. A runner (student helper) came and called me, saying the principal wanted to see me. I had no idea what I had done, and with great fear and trepidation headed to the office. I sat down and Mr. Garrison very seriously asked me why I thought I was there. I wracked my brain but came up with nothing. Then, he erupted into a huge grin and told me I was getting the “Student of the Month” award. He scared the daylights out of me, because I thought I was in huge trouble. Today, Mr. Garrison teaches at my alma mater, a school in Wisconsin that I sometimes return to for fine arts events. Every time I see him he reminds me of that story, telling me the look on my face was priceless!
For the most part, eight grade was uneventful. It was yet another year of learning who we were, trying to figure out where we fit in, and simply learning more about the world. It was the year I embraced my curls, and beyond that I don’t remember much about it.
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Friday, August 6, 2010
(Our two guests, three and five years old. Granted, they are from a tall family, but I think Miss N looks tiny next to them in this picture.)
The second day we had them, one came down with strep throat. Monday the second one also came down with it, followed by Miss M with an ear infection. I’m not at all saying the girls gave my girls illness, since mine already had colds before they got here. But Tuesday Miss N came down with some illness, spiked a high fever that wouldn’t be controlled by Tylenol.
I was doing fine. Sure, I am physically tired – with all of the sick kids I’ve been up at least once per night the entire time they’ve been here, and since I don’t go to bed until midnight, that makes for very little sleep. All in all I was doing fine and doing my best to comfort the ones who were missing their mommy and keep my own entertained.
Until Miss N got sick. She always gets sicker than her sister (and in this case than our houseguests as well).
The night I was up with Miss N with a 102 fever, I lost it. I started sobbing after I tucked her back in bed. I couldn’t sleep, in spite of my extreme exhaustion. My mind went back to two Christmases ago when she was so sick. All it was was strep back then, but I thought she was critically ill. Since Miss N came down with it, I have felt emotionally, spiritually, and physically beat. The strep test in the office came back negative, so likely this is just the result of the ongoing cold she’s had. But it still gets to me. When she has a high fever like that, she stops eating, gets dizzy, and overall stops functioning. It’s sad, pitiful, and for me scary. Especially when the Tylenol didn’t bring it down. Motrin brought it down to 100. (Edited to add, since writing this, she has been diagnosed with mild or beginning pneumonia.)
(When I look at this picture, she looks sick to me. Motrin was in her, so she's happy and enjoying the activity, but this picture makes me sad.)
Trust me, I know there are moms out there with kids far more ill than this, or who have chronically ill or terminally ill children. A little virus or strep bug is nothing in light of what other moms are going through. But when your child is dizzy, can’t walk, and can’t eat, and she’s already a tiny thing, well, it bugs you. Or I should say it bugs me. (Edited to add, I guess I had good reason. On Tuesday when she went to Dr. appt. number 1, she weighed 36 pounds. On Thursday for Dr. Appt. Number 2, she weighted 33.7 pounds. For a child her size, that’s a lot of weight loss.)
I am wondering if I should be learning something here. Why could I handle cranky, sick kids until my kid got really, really sick? Is that going to be my weak point spiritually? Satan can attack me all he wants, but if he touches my kids, I become defeated? That’s somewhat scary. Or is it just the result of pure exhaustion and the disappointment of not being able to do all of the fun things I had planned this week?
I feel as though there is something I should be meditating on here, like some great spiritual truth I should be learning. But I’m not sure what it is. Maybe I should just think on it more when I am more rested.
Now, back to work.
Thursday, August 5, 2010
Seventh grade brought me into the world of high school. Our school did not, at the time, have much separation between high school and junior high. We roamed the halls with the ninth through twelfth grades, doing our best to keep our heads above water.
Without Debbra in my class, I had to make new friends. Luckily, some new faces hit the scene. I remember specifically Paula H, Rachel D, August B, and Becky B, all of whom I connected with fairly well that year or the next.
I think seventh grade really solidified in my mind the fact that I was not “popular.” I think it bothered me more than I wanted to admit. While I liked the friends I had, I wanted to fit in, and specifically I wanted boys to notice me. When you stand head and shoulders over most of your classmates, including the boys, it’s hard to blend in with the crowd. I also thought I was fat. Looking back on pictures, I realize that I was nothing of the sort, but I was larger than most of my classmates, both in stature and build, and I always felt overweight. Now, I can only wish to be back at that weight. Finally, I had this huge head of bushy hair that I had not learned to control. Yeah, you can see it in the piano picture. It was really that bad.
That year I had a huge crush on a boy in our class. It was huge. I remember that he had this small gray Bible. Math class was after chapel, so he would have his Bible with him. He sat not far from me, and I would always steal his Bible, stick it in my purse, leaving just the bookmark ribbon sticking out. I have no idea what he thought of this, but I thought it was very funny.
One incident sticks out to me as far as teachers, and it really impacted some of how I taught when I was teaching. We had a teacher who was in his first year of teaching. Our class was horrible. We were just awful. Instead of using the discipline system that was in place at the time, this particular teacher decided to start assigning us to write sentences, and have our parents sign them. I got sentences assigned one day. It happened to be the day my brother had a surgery. I don’t even think I saw my parents that day for more than an hour. I did the sentences, but didn’t get them signed. Rather than listening to me, he just assigned more. Granted, I’m sure most of us, as seventh graders, had an excuse, but if a family member is having surgery, things just aren’t’ normal at home. Looking back, I’m sure he was at his whit’s end being a first year teacher with a class such as ours, but it solidified in my mind that I would listen to my students within reason when I taught.
In seventh grade I was obsessed with “Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman,” a TV show about a female doctor back in the frontier days. When our church started a junior high youth program called Pro Teens, I really struggled with whether or not I should attend. The meetings were on Saturday night, the same time as my beloved Dr. Quinn. When I mentioned this to my parents, my mom chastised me for being so addicted to a TV show that I would put it in front of God. Luckily we had our trusty VHS machine, so my parents faithfully recorded my show for me while I went off to ProTeens and learned verses and Bible doctrines.
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