Wednesday, February 13, 2013

A Life Lesson on Love

"Noah and Anna Grace, get in the car."

I load Deacon, a tray of cupcakes, and a few more things. They still haven't gotten in the car.

"Hey, y'all, I said get in the car."

 I set my purse and diaper bag in the front seat, and then head to put the stroller up. Still not in the car.

"Hey, you two. Get in the car!"

Once again, I am totally ignored.

"I have a prize that Memie bought you, but I'm not going to give it to you until you get in the car."

Immediately, they get in the car.

"What is it?" they ask.

"Buckle up and I will tell you."

"What is it? What is it? Mom, what is it?"

When I see that they are buckled, I hand them each a heart-shaped PEZ dispenser that my grandma gave me to give each of them. Thinking they will be excited, I grab my phone so they can call to tell her thank you.

"That's it?" Anna Grace asks.

Noah follows her with, "Yeah, is there anything else?"

I reached in the backseat and snatched them right back out of their little hands.  You see, typically at this moment, I would have probably lost my cool, and gone off on each one of them about how unappreciative they are and that they should be thankful that they got anything.  However, we were leaving church, and I was in a totally different state of mind. So I just calmly told them how much it hurt my heart that they would say that and they would expect more and not be grateful for what they were given.  My prayer lately has been, "Lord, break my heart for what breaks Yours." Each song that we sang in worship tonight brought tears to my eyes.

"Where you go, I'll go.
Where you stay, I'll stay.
Where you move, I'll move.
How you serve, I'll serve.
If this life I lose, I will follow you." 

"You gave, You gave Your life away.
You gave, You gave Your life away.
You gave, You gave Your life away for me."

These words hit me like a ton of bricks tonight.  I'm pretty sure He's answering my prayer. I have prayed for a long time for God to take away my selfishness, but I think I have half-heartedly prayed that prayer not really wanting to let go of it quite yet.  So when those words came out of my kids' mouths tonight, all I could do was cry.  What have I done? I have made them this way. I have given them way more than they deserve or need to be given.  I have spoiled them. Made them greedy. Made them unappreciative. Made them take things for granted. Made them be everything that I am trying so hard not to be.  It is MY fault. It's not all of theirs.

I mean, after-all, I spent the entire day planning and purchasing things for them for Valentine's Day tomorrow.  I bought a heart-shaped pancake mold with red-velvet pancake mix, purchased them each a special lunch, made each one a bag full of stuff....DVDs, shoes, magic pens, shirts, candy, cookies, etc, bought heart-shaped pasta for our special dinner and chocolate for dessert with everything I could possibly think of to dip in it. 


I may be showing them that Valentine's Day is about love, but I am doing it all wrong. All I am doing is showing them how to love things and themselves, when what I need to be doing is showing them how to love others.  It has to stop. It has to stop now. If I don't teach them, who will?  I have to lead by example.  God is really working on me right now.  He is laying things on my heart that I know are not me.  They are way out of my comfort zone.  They are scary, and they require sacrifice. I want to be willing to sacrifice. I want to follow Him. I need to.  Lord, please help me to.

The rest of the ride home was silent other than the little sniffles coming from the back seat, and the big ones coming from the front. No arguing, no fighting, no wild, rambunctious children like usual...just tears running down all three of our faces.  Now I am sure that Anna Grace's tears were a direct result of having her unappreciated prize taken away, but I am hoping that a little bit of what I said and what took place sunk in with them and made them think.  

We get home and both of them come sit in my lap.  All of us still crying...Sister heaving and not really knowing why, Noah with genuinely regretful tears running down his face, and me trying to choke up some words to explain what I am feeling and attempt to teach them a lesson.  And in the midst of our cry-fest, Noah (in mid-cry) busts out with, "This is so dramatic!" It was all I could do to not burst into laughter. He was right. It was. But it was needed.  

I've got a lot of teaching, leading, and molding to do, and it starts tomorrow.  Will I still get up early and make them heart-shaped pancakes? Yes. And we will still have our dinner and enjoy the evening together as a family, but I will not be giving them a bag full of expectations. It's going to be hard, but I have to start somewhere. 

And I can't think of a better day to begin doing a better job of teaching them the true meaning of love.

Happy Valentine's Day!

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Perfectly Imperfect

So I had every intention of writing a post-Christmas post. Didn't happen. Then there was that idea to write a New Year's reflection post and talk about how much my life changed in 2012 and discuss the "one word" that I intended to focus on this year. Yeah, that didn't happen either. That one word was discipline, and I need lots of discipline in my my spiritual life, housework, parenting-skills, health & fitness, finances, work, etc. I am continuing to fail in pretty much all of those areas, but hey, there's always tomorrow, right?

I think I am finally coming to grips with the fact that I am just never going to be one of those got-it-all-together moms. There will be days (or in my case here lately, weeks) when my house is a wreck, and my laundry room is overflowing with piles of clean clothes, dirty clothes, and who knows. My kids are gonna act like fools sometimes ok...a lot of times, and all of my patience WILL go out the window. And NO, Dustin, I don't care that the door is open and the neighbors might have heard me screaming. Sometimes I will forget, or heck just might not be financially able to pay a bill at the time it's due. It happens. And then, unfortunately, there will be days when I miss out on my daily devotionals or prayer time. I flat out don't have will power to say no to that World's Finest Chocolate bar that Noah is selling, and I can't always find time to go to the gym or work out everyday. And the chances are that I'm probably never going to be skinny. Sadly, I don't get a chance to do therapy with Deacon everyday like I would like to. Also, as awesome as it would be, I am probably never going to be the top Kelly's Kids rep or an A-list photographer. And although I consider myself to be a crafty person, I can't even sew a button on, much less attempt using a sewing machine. But I think it would be the coolest thing ever to be able to whip up a pillow, homemade doll, or some curtains. And let's just face it, as far as cooking dinner for my family goes, unless it comes out of a box, bag, or can be made with a can of crescent rolls or some kind of cream of ain't happening. Thank the Lord I married a man that likes to cook.  And well... being on time for things, I promise we try...we really do. Oh, and my poor car. For anyone who has to ride with me, I must apologize ahead of time for the smell and the pile of junk, trash, and crumbs that they will have to remove in order to have a seat. Do I beat myself up over all of it? No. Ok. Well, maybe sometimes.

I'm not saying that I don't have any intentions of improving in these areas, because I do. I think I am just putting that all out there to convince mainly myself that when I fail, it is ok. My life is not perfect...never has been, never will be. Nobody's is. However, it's perfect for me.  I am figuring out more and more especially over this past year who that ME really is and what she wants. I have spent too many years worrying about  "Keeping up with the Joneses." To heck with the Joneses! That is way too tiring. I just wanna be me!  Do I still like nice things? Yes. Do I live for them? No.  My focus has taken a huge turn away from things and is way more directed at experiences. I have this zest for life that I've never experienced before. I am just so grateful for the beautiful little life and family that God has given me. Each day is a gift...I just want to enjoy it, and I want to give back.

Not too long ago, I was at Barnes and Noble and out of the corner of my eye, this little book caught my attention. The front cover read More Than a Bucket List: Making your dreams, passions, and faith a reality. I turned it over, and the back cover read, "Everyone dreams about a life of meaning and purpose, whether in grand adventures or in the everyday, a life that is marvelous and messy, fantastic and frightening, spilling over with adventure, grace, trials, joy...and ridiculous bouts of laughter.  We want to experience life to the fullest while living a life that matters." I knew I had to have that book, because that is exactly what I want in my life. I want to lead a fulfilling, adventurous life while at the same time being faithful to God.  Now, who knows if I will ever get the opportunity to go deep-sea diving in the Great Barrier Reef , get lost in Tokyo, or eat cannoli in Italy like the book says. I mean, I seriously doubt it. But it also gives suggestions to serve a day in a charity or ministry outside of my comfort zone, go on a mission trip, share the gospel with someone who has never heard it, or simply ask someone how I can pray for them.  Now these things I can definitely do, as long as I am willing.  I want to be willing.  I am not wishing for my life to be extravagant...just meaningful. And it definitely does not have to be perfect to be meaningful.

And with that, I will finish by sharing some moments that have been meaningful to me over the past few months.

I was blessed to be able to take the trip I've always dreamed of taking...New York at Christmastime. Talk about knocking some things off of the bucket list! This was an amazing and unforgettable trip.

Walking hand-in-hand with my Hunny through Central Park.

Looking out over the top of the Empire State Building.

Visiting a 9-11 Memorial...very touching.

Taking in every detail of this amazing city and all that it has to offer.

Getting a hot dog from several different vendors-this was Wall St.

Watching Dustin jump in with a choir and sing Christmas carols outside the public library.

And of course the tree at Rockefeller Center that I've wanted to see every since I first saw Home Alone 2.

And I was unable to capture it on camera, but visiting a Sunday morning service at The Brooklyn Tabernacle was by-far one of the most amazing parts of this trip. That choir. The worship. The diversity. Indescribable.   

And then there was Christmas with the kids. To me, it truly is one of the most wonderful times of the year. From decorating together...

To dance parties...

...and all of the in-between. It was a wonderful Christmas Season!

Memories have been made.

 And milestones have been met.

And last, but not least, Big Boy got glasses. We still have to get them adjusted, but it was so awesome to watch him be able to see us for the first time from across the room. Of course, I know I am kinda partial, but I think he is absolutely adorable in them!

I owe my change of heart all to God. When He gave me Deacon, He allowed me to see perfection not through society's eyes, but through His.  I think it is pretty safe to say that I am quite content with my perfectly imperfect life. :)