Thursday, August 3, 2017

Summer of 2017

And just like that, Summer is just about over.  School starts in just a couple of weeks and I will now have a 7th grader and a Junior in High School.  It just doesn't seem possible.  I don't envy my friends sending their babies off to college or starting their senior year.  My heart is with you all that are having to do that.

This Summer has been full of lots of things, mostly good things.  We got to play some football and basketball.  Christian loved going on the Missions trip again.  It is always a life changing experience for him.  Bo is determined to go next year.  Both boys enjoyed youth camp and Bryan and I had a week to ourselves. It's a brief glimpse into what life will look like without kids around.  We have talked about what hobbies we may try to take up so that we can have things to do when the kids leave us.  He mentioned golf and I mentioned dancing.  Bryan was quick to tell me he wouldn't be spending every weekend at the club.  This was quite comical to me since I can't remember the last time I have been to a club.  Don't ask me how many times I went when I was younger.  Of course, I meant salsa lessons or something along those lines.  We are getting better at taking time away from our kids even if it is just for a day.  20 years together and 18 years married, we are still working on this crazy, wonderful life we live and created together.

This was the first Summer that my oldest has been a full time licensed driver.  I have to admit, I pray often but I really do like that I don't have to chauffeur him around anymore and he can help with little brother too.  With all of that responsibility has been a whole new learning curve for mom and dad.  We have had to establish rules which we never have had clear cut ones.  Bryan and I do well as a team in deciding what's best for our kids.  However, I am much more the worrier and want to put down rules to give myself some sense of security.  Bryan's rules are much simpler: Be respectful, be careful and you know what we expect.  I mean, that's it?  Like I said, we work better as a team.  I think the hardest part has been raising the teenage boy.  Sure, we haven't dealt with much drama or emotional meltdowns at certain times but the struggle is still real.  The hardest part for me in raising boys is helping them become the strong men they need to be to lead their homes and raising them to still be submissive to authority and kind and compassionate.  It sounds easy but not so much when you have strong boys.  I have had many moments where I wonder "who raised these kids?"  I always have this fear of raising jerks so when one of mine gets that tone, I take it personal to the extreme.  I have to choose my battles at times too.  I have to let my guys talk when they are ready and then be careful not to ask too much because then they shut down.  It can be tiring trying to figure out what my move should be.  This is why I think the best thing a momma can do is pray and when you pray, you call out the good things in your kids.  Though they may act like the devil, you call out the light inside of them.  You remind yourself of the joy you had in your heart when they were born and the promises God gave you for them.  You see them at their best even when the worst may be spewing out.  And don't ever stop praying for their friends.  Their outside influences enter your home whether you physically allow them to or not.  When you pray for their friends you get to see a strong bond develop and you can be confident in knowing the circle will rise and succeed together.  Mommas, don't ever stop praying!

This Summer, we also decided to do some updates to our house.  It's amazing what a fresh coat of paint and some new decor can do.  I am no decorator and my house hasn't been spruced up since my mom initially helped me years ago.  Thank God she was there to help me then.  Surrendering to the fact that decorating is not my strong side, this time I asked the help of a great lady with an eye for such things.  She came in and used some of my old stuff along with some new things and basically brought me to tears when I saw the final product.  It may not be as fancy to some but to me it was a fresh start.  There were a couple of old pieces that had sentimental value to Bryan's family that I never knew what to do with.  So one hung in the garage and the other in my laundry room.  She took them and gave them purpose with refurbished frames and mounts.  I have always been honest with you guys in telling you that I feel the Lord talks to me through my experiences.  So seeing these old pieces being made new again spoke volumes to me.  God always has something new for you.  It doesn't matter how old you are or where you have been hiding, God's mercies are new every day.  Dust off the old.  Open your eyes because you never know who he will put in your path that will call out the good in you.  Sound silly?  Maybe so, but it speaks to my spirit.  I will be 40 this upcoming year.  Some may say that is old and others may laugh and call me just a baby.  But you would think as I approach 40 that I am more comfortable in my own skin.  While most of that is true, I am also going through a transition.   Am I smart enough?  Am I pretty enough?  Am I healthy enough?  What dreams do I have?  What new thing can God do in me?  The truth is he can do something new in me.  And I can do something new for someone else.  You may be the dusty old picture hanging in some dark place.  You think you will go unnoticed forever.  But open your ears and your eyes, because God can send someone along the way who will pick you up and see the beauty within you.  You may be the one who needs to find the light in someone else.  Don't hesitate to share with someone their worth and what they mean to you.  You may be the person they need to call them out of the darkness and into the light.  We all have purpose.  Ask for it, seek it and knock.  We have not, because we ask not as the scripture says.

I am not a bible scholar nor am I the perfect Christian.  I am a momma, a wife, a daughter and a friend who is trying to figure this life out just like you.  I mess up daily.  Some days I like to believe God helps me correct my mistakes and other days I think he must say: be careful, have respect and you know what I expect.  I am so thankful he makes all things new even at 40, well almost 40.
Enjoy the rest of your Summer friends and family.
Summer days drifting away...

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Confessions of a boy mom

So it has been a really long time since I have sat down to write.  Honestly, I have gone from crazy, to super stressed, to just being still.  Recently I feel like that is what the Lord has been saying to my spirit.  "Be still and know...".
Life hasn't changed much really other than the boys are another year older and I am about 20 pounds heavier than I want to be.  But recently I have been all up in my feelings.  I have been that emotional girl.  I have been that crazy wife and I have definitely been THAT mom.  And in my house full of boys, it is not easy being the emotional one.  I am all alone in that department.  Oh the joys of being the only lady in the house.  And I use the word "lady" very cautiously.
I have heard it said that it is harder to raise a daughter and how you worry more with a girl.  So let me preface what I am about to say with this.  I do not have a girl and I don't know what it is like to raise one so I won't pretend to know exactly how it is with a girl.  Parts of me wish Bryan and I had a little curly haired girl running around but it just wasnt God's plan.  And we agreed to not keep trying to figure out God's plan.  Instead we ended up with boys.  We ended up with two testosterone filled, stinky, strong willed, competitive boys.
So as a boy mom I need to get my feelings out.  This week has been crazy!  My boy's birthdays are one day apart with 4 years in between.  I have one who is on the verge of shaving and the other who just got his license.  I have been completely distracted by trying to do the parent taught driving thing that I didn't even realize my 12 year old has facial hair.  He needs to shave soon.  But now that I see it, I am just in denial.  It's baby fine, no one else notices it.  Or do they??  I refuse to have any part on making the call on his first shave.  I am a mom in complete denial that the baby is growing up.
But this does not compare to the driving thing.  So when we signed up for the parent taught driver's course, I was all about it thinking Bryan would show him all of the ways of driving.  I hate to drive.  If I was rich I would have a chauffeur.  Little did I know, I would be with my kid the majority of the time.  I could not stomach the whole process.  I panicked and yelled.  We would often get in fights on the way somewhere and then have to fake a smile as we got out the meet someone.  Why did I get stuck doing this?  Fast forward almost a year later to his 16th birthday.  I stressed all week that my paperwork wasn't in order.  Then I looked at Bryan and said "He isn't ready!".  Bryan said "Well if he isn't ready by now we are in trouble".  I prayed the whole week and even more so the day of his test.  Needless to say he passed with ease and we now have a licensed driver.
Now we start a whole other set of rules.  To be honest, we are learning as we go because we have never had to set firm rules.  Oh and then there is this need for me to try to control things even more because I am afraid of losing control.  I know I am sounding a little crazy.  Then if you have a strong willed child you know you have to tread easily.  You want to maintain control without totally killing their spirit and what makes them unique.
I am confident most of the times on the way I have raised my boys but still question my mothering skills just about every day.  I wasn't prepared for the feelings I would have when they go to meet a friend's or girl's parents for the first time.  I get a pit in my stomach knowing there is someone looking at my son thinking they may not be good enough.  And mom's of girls I can only imagine this is how you feel and no boy will ever be good enough.  I so understand because I am sure this is how my parents felt.  But I can promise you we are trying.  I pray that my boys are respectful and act like gentlemen.  I hope they hold the door open and compliment her when she looks nice.  I hope you know that they have goals of their own and that we would never want them to hinder your daughter's goals.  But I can't promise that they are always thinking about them as I watch them giggle like two year olds watching Sponge Bob or playing a video game with their fellow stinky friends.  I can't promise that they won't ever rev their engine or make a rut in the yard or leave their trash out.  Bryan and I will do our best to raise Godly young men who will one day love your girl the way Christ loves the church.  This is a work in progress and consists of daily prayers.
I also never knew how much I would love my boy's friends.  They are like my own.  I feel like I have many sons.  They will make you laugh.  They will fart in your car.  They will take off their shoes and you will think you have died and gone to hell. They will insult each other, laugh and get over it as to where I would be in tears.  I have prayed for those boys by name.  I believe in praying for the kids who surround mine.  This is an important circle for you to know and pray for.  Who is speaking into your kids lives?  Who are they running to Whataburger with?  Who is in their truck? Who let the dogs out?  Just kidding on that one.  Seriously though, there is something about the male bond that us girls will never truly understand.
My last thing to say is this.  I want to raise strong boys who are courageous and can stand in the toughest of times.  I also want them to be meek and humble.  I want them to know that they first must seek God's kingdom.  My boys are blessed with the best earthly father but there is no father like God.  I pray they know His voice.  If they know His voice then in the moments of temptation just maybe they will hear His whisper.  Mom and Dad won't always be around so they have to know the voice of the Father.  Though I would have loved the sweet tenderness of a girl, I am learning to embrace the valor of my boys.  Don't know if I am tough enough to handle all they throw at me, but I sure am building some muscle.  "The Lord is my refuge and strength..."

Love all my girl moms.  And to my fellow boy moms, take cover in the battle zone.
God is raising up a great group of boys and girls!

Sunday, August 21, 2016

They are teaching me

Well here we are.  Another Summer has come and gone and the kids are about to head back to school.  Christian will be sophomore and the infamous Bo will brave middle school for the first time.
I looked at a picture of Bo the other day and realized just how much more mature he is looking.  With Christian, I embraced everything as being the first time.  I still get emotional with a lot of his first moments.  But here I have my baby boy about to enter the years where some of the biggest changes happen and I feel like I am not prepared because I haven't really taken the time to ponder on such things.

Bo will go in ready to take the bull by the horns.  He loves school.  He loves being around his friends.  He is definitely a social butterfly.  Christian, however, could skip school and just play sports.  He does well in school but honestly he would be fine never having to go another day of school in his life.  I have two totally opposite kids.  Because they are opposite, I find myself as a mother having to embrace different things.  I have to learn to be open to new things because each one of my boys takes us on a different path.

As you can imagine in a house full of boys, I feel like I am in a battle of testosterone at all times.  Everything is a bet, a dare, or a competition.  Christian and Bo both have their strengths and their weaknesses.  At one time I am telling Christian to quit picking on his younger brother and teasing him.  Then I am telling Bo to "man up" and how he needs to come to terms with the fact that he is the younger brother.  Dad was a younger brother and that is just the way life is so learn to deal with it.  Tough love by mom, huh?  Mommin' ain't easy!  I have to be tough.  If the boys sense fear in me, they might attack.  So though I may be an emotional mess at times, I have to keep it together for the sake of my survival.

I do have to say that I am ready for them to go back to school so they can get a break from each other.  Let's face it, school really is good for them too.  They learn many things and it is good for them to be around others their age.  They need to learn to deal with some of life's curve balls.  They need some day to day discipline.  They need to exercise their brains.  With the start of a new school season, I try to reflect on how we have grown as a family and individually over the Summer.

This Summer was a bit different for us.  You see we are a sports family.  We spend our Summers playing sports.  No one will ever convince me that sports is a bad thing.  Maybe the obsession with it can be bad, but not the love of the game and the will to play.  So this Summer we played sports as usual.  We had an opportunity to play a lot between the two boys being active in something.  But you see something else was stirring in Christian's heart and even Bo's.  Christian hit me up with going on our church's mission trip to Guatemala.  Me, being the overly spiritual mom I am, asked him if he really wanted to give up a week of sports for this trip.  Though I know deep down, there is a God sized dream in this young man's heart, I second guessed it.  What if you miss out on practice?  What if your team makes it to the championship and you are already committed to the trip?  A lot of what if's coming from a mom who has prayed God's word over this boy since before he was born.  Why in the world would I have even questioned this?  Maybe because I am more attached to the things of this world than I thought.  Christian looked at me and said "Mom, I want to go.  This will be good for me."  So there you go.  I couldn't argue with that truth bomb.  Bo also got to go to youth camp for the first time.  So now both boys were missing two weeks out of their sports.  I can tell you that what both of my boys gained in those times was more than I could have ever taught them.  They came back revived, refreshed and restored.  They came back with a lot of fire.

My hesitation made me question so many things about myself as a mother.  I can say some mighty prayers when it comes to my boys.  I have spoken so many things over their lives.  I have asked God for my kids to know Him personally and to seek out a relationship with Him.  Yet when they started doing that, here I am with the road block.  Though I wasn't intentionally trying to stop them, I was praying one thing and saying another.  This is when everything I had ever prayed over my boys began to resurface in my mind.  It was a reality check.  It was God saying "Hope I have heard your prayers for your boys.  Don't worry, I've got them."  My boys were teaching me to let go of things you think are important and focus on the eternal things that truly matter.  The scripture that says "better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere" is so true. Their footsteps are ordered by the One who will never lead them down the wrong path.  Though I have thoughts of where I see them going to college, what sports they should play, what teachers they should have, what career they should pursue, the Lord's plans for them are much better.

I have control issues at times for sure.  I can admit that.  So naturally I want to control things in my kid's lives.  I am having to learn to give up some of that control because the two young men I have prayed for so much have proven to be doing ok without me on a lot of things.  It's like letting go of their hand the first day of Kindergarten.  It's like watching them in their first performance, knowing that even though you helped them practice every night, it is still all in their hands.  It's like letting them get behind the wheel to drive for the first time and then blinking and they are driving off to college.

Heck, I have so many flaws as a mom.  I say many things on one hand and act in a totally different way.  Just when I think I have the mom thing down, another life lesson slaps me in the face.  Just when I think I am teaching my boys how to be men, they are teaching me to be a better mom.  Their love for God inspires me right now.  As they start another school year, I pray that they continue seeking God first.  God is obviously a better parent than I am but He did choose me to be the mother of Christian and Bo.  One day I hope they thank God for me as I have thanked God for them.

I hope I have taught them a few things along the way...
Seek God first
Know how to talk to God
Love your family and keep the family circle
Be leaders
Look out for the little man
Work hard, stay humble
Learn to take criticism
Respect Girls
When you find a girl, try to make sure she likes your family
Say thank you
Own what you like to do whether it is band, choir, sports, academics
Strive to win but don't be a sore loser
Congratulate your friends on their successes
Surround yourself with good people because iron sharpens iron



Sunday, January 31, 2016

It's Just A Game

In our day to day lives, in the sports world, I often hear the phrase "it's just a game."  In fact, I catch myself saying that as well.  When tempers flare up or I see someone stressing, it is absolutely the right thing to say.  It is just a game.  It is just a test.  It is just a spelling bee.  It is just a performance.  You get the point.

Here is what I can say to that.  Yes it is just a game and there is no need to measure your whole self worth based on the outcome of that game.  But every time one of my children goes out to compete for something, I feel like my heart leaps outside of my chest and takes the field with them.  It is just a game but I know how much they have prepared.  I know how much they want to win.  I know how badly they want to do their best.

It is just a game but all eyes are watching.  The crowd is rooting for you before the first play happens.  But your mom is on the sidelines with butterflies in her stomach because she knows this means a lot to you.  She is full of pride when she gets that first look of you in your uniform.  She is proud because you had the courage to just get out there.  You make a good play and the crowd cheers.  Depending on your mom's personality she may jump up and scream with excitement.  Or she may just nod an atta boy at you.  Then you make a bad play.  You throw an interception, miss a tackle, or forget your lines. The crowd can be forgiving or down right mad.  And then there is your mom.  She may get mad.  She puts her head down and cringes because she knows you are already tough on yourself.  She feels your disappointment and the crowd's.  She feels the tension.  She feels every move you make.  She knows you have to keep going.  So she prays for you to pick yourself up and to muster enough strength to finish.

You may even get hurt at times.  She will feel like someone kicked her in the stomach.  She may tell you to suck it up even though she is hurting for you.  But she will also be the one to pray over you.  She will make sure you get well and she will pray some intense prayers to God.  She also knows that God has a plan for you and that your worth is not based on your performance.  She sees into your future and knows that this is just one competition, one game.  You will have plenty more in your life.  She will be there for every one she can be.  She prays that she doesn't miss a moment.

As a mom, I know these feelings all too well.  I have said many times, especially when emotions get out of control that it is just a game.  But I feel like my whole world steps out onto that field.  I will never forget when Christian was young and still playing baseball how I would have to walk away when he pitched.  I couldn't handle the pressure.  I couldn't handle knowing the ball was in his hands and he was either going to walk a batter or strike him out.  One game he hit a kid.  This particular kid wore glasses and stepped into the plate rather than away from it.  The ball hit his helmet and caused his glasses to cut his eye.  There was blood everywhere.  Naturally, the kid's mom screams and runs to her son.  Christian sat and watched and I knew he felt terrible.  As his momma, I knew he was done for the game.  But Coach kept him in.  I sat and watched him walk batter after batter after that.  The coach still kept him in.  I wanted to crawl in a hole because I felt every emotion.  Part of me wanted to yell at the coach and say take him out.  But I sat there and endured the downward spiral.  After the game, there I was along with Dad telling him to keep his head up.  Now looking back, I realize that was just one game and he would have many more games to play in his lifetime.  That game is just one part of many memories that have been made over the years.

Yesterday was UIL competition day for Bo.  This is the first year he has competed in such an event.  I watched him prepare for months. The night before the event his stomach began to hurt.  He was in tears and you could tell he didn't feel himself.  We prayed together.  I reminded him how he can continue to pray on his own and how it isn't selfish to pray for yourself.  He finally went to bed.  When he woke up that morning he still wasn't well.  I offered for him to back out and he said no with more tears in his eyes.  He told me he wanted to go.  So off we went to the school.  When we got there he was still in tears.  One of the teachers reassured him it would be fine if he wasn't able to compete.  I even offered to take him so he didn't have to ride the bus and bring him home early.  He got his composure together and told me he was fine and that he was going.  I left in tears.  I knew he had worked hard and wanted to be a part of this competition.  I prayed the whole way home.  Well he made it the whole day.  Then I arrived for the awards ceremony.  The audience waited patiently as they called all the winner's names in each category.  I watched Bo from the other side of the room.  I smiled at how he and his friends cheered loud and proud for their fellow classmates that won in each category.  When it was time for them to announce the top 6 in the category he competed in, he glanced over at me with a smile and a look of hope.  When all names were called, his name was not one of them.  I was disappointed for him but then he gave me the sweetest look.  He smiled at me and shrugged his shoulders like it was alright with him.  Afterwards he told me that he would get it next year.  It was another teachable moment.  You won't always be first and you won't always win.  But strong people get back up and try again.  They also can celebrate in the successes of their friends. Sure my momma's heart wanted his name to be called.  But my love for that boy doesn't change because it wasn't.

I have always said that God teaches me so many life lessons through my children.  God is a parent.  I know he sees every challenge we face.  I think he feels everything we feel.  He knows when we have prepared to step out.  He also knows when maybe we are in a fight that may be bigger than us.  I am sure it breaks His heart when we fall but He extends His hand to get us back on our feet.  He equips us with all we need.  When we humble ourselves, He promotes us just at the right time.  Sometimes we get the trophy and sometimes we don't.  But God knows that we are worth more than any trophy or any participation ribbon.  He tells us to press on.  He is our biggest fan even when everyone else may be against us.  He doesn't love us based on our performance.  His love is unconditional.  We may have blown it on the mound.  But He knows the greatness that is still inside of us.

People always make fun of me because when I watch a professional athlete blow it on the field, I think about his momma.  When all the fans are booing and wanting his head on the chopping block, I know somewhere his momma is sitting in her seat with her heart in her hand.  She still has to love him through it.  She will be the one telling her son that she still loves him and is still his fan.  She will have listen to every negative comment and try to tune it out.  She may even go a little momma bear on some one.  When it is all said and done, she will tell her son to stand tall.  She will tell him that he is worth more than some game.  Because after all, it is just a game, right?

Yes it is just a game.  It is a game that teaches us determination and perseverance.  It is a game that teaches us to work as a team, to put our heart out there for others.  It is a game that teaches us passion.  It is a game that teaches us adversity and how to overcome injury.  It is a game that sometimes lets us stand on the platform of victory.  And that same game may knock our face in the dirt.  It is a game that is worth playing when God is on your team.
It's just a game.  Yes, you are correct.  As a mom, a piece of my heart just prepared to take the field.  It's just a game and I am here to watch my favorite player.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

From the Back to the Front

Here we are already in the middle of September.  I feel like I haven't been able to catch my breath since school started.  We have entered the school year full force.  High School is constant work.  I am leaving my Freshman early at school almost every other day just to stay on top of the challenging work load he decided to take this year.  I am glad he is challenging himself this year but I am being challenged as well.  Didn't I already make it through 4 years of HS?  My 5th grader loves school and always has.  Bo is quite the socialite so waking him for school is never an issue.  In fact the boy sets his alarm for way earlier than he needs to get up.  He has to make sure he doesn't miss a thing. 

Growing boys mean this mom also has to grow in her patience and understanding.  I am either a nagging mom asking if they have all their stuff put up.  Or I am the best mom because I washed a shirt at 9:00 at night because one forgot they needed it the next morning.  There is no in between.  Some days I get a load of information and other days I am lucky if I get two words from them.  I am always trying to find that fine line of teaching my boys to be sweet, caring, and compassionate and encouraging them to be strong, courageous, and confident at the same time.  Not a day goes by, that I don't question myself as a mom.

I seem to be on the road a lot these days.  There is the everyday commute to work and then the numerous trips down Eagle drive taking my boys to their activities.  And of course there are the random grocery stops for items I forgot to get on my last grocery store visit.  It is on the road where God has really been making some things clear to me.  Now that my boys are often in different places at the same time, only one is with me in the car at a time.  Four days a week Bo is with me on his own.  We have our normal get-to-practice routine.  I get his jug of water ready for practice and carry it to the car while he grabs his cleats, helmet and shoulder pads.  He piles everything into the back seat and buckles up.  Some days he is quiet and other days he talks my ear off.  I am reminded that I am still in control of his life.  I have the steering wheel.  I am the big person in charge in the front seat.  I am steering the direction of his life most days.  He sits back and enjoys the ride trusting that he is safe in that car with me.  He talks and I listen yet I still know that I am the mom and he is the kid.  The downfall to him being in the backseat is that I often find myself tuning him out.  I am easily distracted by what is ahead of me.  I can sometimes forget that he is back there watching what I am doing.  I get lost in the cares of this world.  What am I cooking for dinner?  What errand do I need to run next?  Conviction has overtaken me recently as I find myself asking him to repeat himself because I wasn't paying attention.  Hope, slow down!!!  He will only be in the backseat for a short period of time.  I can only control the direction he goes in for so long.  I need to remind myself that there is a precious boy behind me who one day will be taller than me and old enough to ride in the front seat.  I will no longer look at him through the rear view mirror.  He will be shoulder to shoulder with me soon enough.  Lord help me to embrace these days with my back seat passenger.  I pray that I steer him in the right direction, the direction that leads to you.  Help me to pay attention to every word he says because there is power in the words we speak.  May I never forget how important it is to lead by example and remember who is following behind me.

Every morning I get to take Christian to school.  Man where did the time go?  He was once in that back seat.  But now this young man with a deep voice is sitting right next to me.  Some mornings are easier than others.  Some mornings I get asked for advice and other mornings I am the mom who obviously knows nothing about life.  I mean seriously, those of you know me know that I have been dancing since I was in diapers.  I am not good at a lot of things but I have some skills on the dance floor.  But I was told that I don't do the whip or the nae nae correctly. My dance moves may have been good for my day but things have changed.  Really?  He is lucky I still let him ride in the car.  So here is this teenager fighting for control at times by changing my favorite song on the radio.  Excuse me, but this is my car.  Go back to the backseat!  But no, there he is right next to me.  It is in those moments, that I get to see his profile.  I get to see how handsome he is and how he looks and acts so much like the love of my life.  I still have control of the steering wheel but he constantly interjects with his opinions of my driving.  Mom why are you waving at that car?  Mom why didn't you go?  Mom, why did you say thank you out loud to that driver?  They can't hear you.  You see even though I still have the keys and I am still driving, he now has an opinion.  He is becoming his own person.  He can now see what is ahead.  Sometimes I still find myself putting my arm on top of his chest if I make a hard stop.  When I can see danger ahead I still want to protect him.  I still want to shelter him.  I can only pray that the Lord shows me when to grasp that steering wheel with tight gripped hands and when to let off some slack.  Lord help me to embrace the days where he is right next to me because soon he will be driving.  He will have to see what is ahead and make a judgement call.  I pray that he sometimes asks "What would mom or Dad do?" I pray he knows which ways to turn, when to put on the gas, and when to slow down.  Lord guide his path.

Like many of you, I pray for my kids each day.  I pray for their friends too.  Because I want the kids who surround mine to love God.  I want them to be game changers and leaders.  Psalm 91:11 is a scripture I always pray over them.  I want God to command his angels concerning them.  I want them to be covered from the right to the left and from the back to the front.  I can say some serious momma prayers when it comes to my kids and your kids.  I can't lie though, there are days when I doubt and ask for forgiveness for it too.  It seemed the more I prayed for others the more bad things kept happening to my own kid.  We had our year of injury last year with Christian having to have pinky surgery.  We got through that and I was thankful for life lessons we learned through that time.  So honestly I thought we would go into this year fresh and totally prepared.  Then the tough schedule kicked us in the rear and three games into football Christian ends up with a mild concussion.  So yes, this prayer warrior momma did what every momma does.  I had a good cry.  Why is it that I can pray faithfully and am confident that God will hear me, yet mine gets knocked down again?  He has to be still and wait again.  Tell me there has to be a reason.  The truth is, I have boys who choose to play sports and injuries happen in sports.  Accidents will happen.  Adversities will come.  But God is God Almighty.  He sees the bigger picture.  He looks through the windshield and sees what is ahead.  He knows when to step on the gas pedal and He knows when the brakes need to be tapped.  I can picture it in my head.  He was there all along.  He saw what was coming and like the scripture says, He gave his angels charge over my son.  As I sat there waiting for my son to get up from the impact, I closed my eyes and prayed.  Some of my friends put their hands on me as a reassurance that I was not alone.  I spoke God's promise that my kids would be taken care of and that Christian would get up.  You see though my fear may overwhelm me, I know that God is peace.  Be still my heart.  There will always be consequences to our choices and sometimes we share in the consequences of others choices.  No matter the situation, I know God equips us with all that we need to get through anything in this life.

I will never understand why certain things happen.  Why does my mom struggle with her health so much?  Why does my friend have to battle cancer?  Why does a mom have to watch her son spend months in a hospital?  Why do innocent people have to die?  My lack of understanding doesn't change who God is.  His path is the one I choose to follow.  I picture the scene from the Grinch movie when the Grinch steals all the toys and is rejoicing in what he thought was his success of destroying the spirit of the Who people.  They were beyond devastated but in a distance the Grinch hears the rising of their Christmas spirit and the song coming from their mouths.  He shouts "They're relentless!"  This is exactly how I feel.  Life will always have its challenges.  Some will knock you down harder than others.  But I will make a joyful noise because the joy of the Lord is my strength.  I will be relentless.  I will keep singing of His love forever and I will continue to teach my kids to sing also.  God is lighting our path.  He has given me all the wisdom I need to be a good driver for my kids.  Whether they are riding in the front or the back, they are covered by one mightier than me.  Lord, thank you for surrounding my kids on all sides.

Here I am to worship


Friday, July 10, 2015

5 Thoughts on a Waterpark

Since Bo was about two years old, we have been going to Schlitterbahn in New Braunfels.  It has become a family tradition of sorts.  We skipped going there the last two years because of other vacations and busy Summers.  Though we enjoyed the other experiences very much, we realized how much we truly missed going to Schlitterbahn.  Maybe taking a break for the last couple of years helped us enjoy our time there even more this year.  This year I walked away with five personally important thoughts.

1.  I don't have a bikini body...
I dread having to go to a water park in a bathing suit.  I know there are many people who go and could care less about what anyone else is saying about their figure.  I wish I was like that.  Unless everything on my body is still in the shape it is suppose to be in and holding up like it is suppose to be, you won't find me in an itsy bitsy bikini.  Thumbs up to the ladies who can still rock them.  It impresses me to see the 40 year old woman still looking beast mode in one and I truly admire their commitment to staying in shape.  I know as you get older keeping the fat off just gets harder.  So when I see someone older who has an extremely fit figure I can't help but applaud them.  But in saying all of that, I know that my kids don't think any less of me.  There I am in my mom bathing suit top with swim shorts to cover my back side and a visor to top it off.  I make some comment about me being fat and Bo sweetly tells me how beautiful I am.  That gives me the confidence to keep walking around in my mom suit.  But it also makes me want to work harder for the better body.  Overall, I want to just be in shape.  I want a healthy heart.  Since I have been working out again, I realized that walking and climbing stairs is much easier.  I want to be healthy so that I can continue to enjoy the waterpark with my kids for many more years to come.  Yes I want the perfect body but I just can't commit to giving up that chocolate candy I love so much.  Did I mention I had ice cream three nights in a row?  Cheers to mom tops, swim shorts and visors!

2.  I still have maternal instincts...
I can honestly say that each year as my boys get older, the waterpark has gotten easier.  When we started Bo was still in a pull up.  Now that both of my boys can ride every ride and can swim with ease, things are much more enjoyable.  Several years ago we had a scare with Bo.  He had learned to swim but wasn't a strong swimmer.  We were at the 3rd park in Schlitterbahn which has a fast flowing river.  He was in a tube and I held on to his tube.  Bryan convinced me to let Bo go and that he would be fine.  So I let go.  I got turned around for a second and Bryan had his eyes solely on Christian.  In a flash we couldn't find Bo.  I don't usually panic but a rush of emotions came over me.  Bryan went around the river and I was frantically swimming towards the entrance of the river.  I finally see Bo and noticed he had jumped out of his tube and was headed towards the entrance so he could get out.  But since he wasn't a strong swimmer and the current was swift, he was going under.  I yelled to a lady to help him and she grabbed him for me.  After chewing him out, I remember being overcome with relief and thankfulness that he was ok.  This year he was fully capable of going without a tube on the same torrent river.  So we let him go around with Christian while Bryan and I took our time going around.  After the first lap, I asked Bryan if he saw them.  He hadn't seen them. So I stopped where I was and waited until they came around in my eye sight.  Something in me, something maternal just comes out.  I wanted to know that Bo was ok.  I knew he had his older brother with him but I wanted to put my eyes on him.  I wasn't moving forward until I knew things were under control.  I can't help but think this is how God is with us.  He lets us go into tough currents at times.  He knows we can swim but His eye never leaves us.  He is watching and if we need help he will be there to lift us up.  He is our Father.  And mothers and fathers always look out for their kids.

3.  There is still a chance you will get burned...
With all of the increase in cases of skin cancer, we know that it is necessary to apply sunscreen.  Christian and I have a brown layer already so we don't normally burn in the sun.  We just keep getting darker.  Bo is light skinned but will get a bronze color in the Summer.  And then there is Bryan. He is the pale one in the family.  We all made sure that we applied sun screen.  Though I have never had a sun burn, I have seen Bryan and Bo both in that state and we didn't want that to happen again.  The first day at the park was overcast so our skin survived with little sun.  The second day the sun was fierce.  We reapplied a few times to ensure we were all protected.  When we got back to the hotel, Bryan knew that he was burned.  Sure enough he was red all over.  He took every precaution to prevent it and yet it still happened.  Did we not re apply often enough?  Did we not use a good brand of sun screen?  Who knows?  Bottom line is he is dealing with a sun burn.  Thank God for Aloe Vera!  As silly as it may seem, I can't help but relate it to life.  Sometimes you can do everything to prepare.  Sometimes you will take every step to make sure things turn out right.  And even though you do what you can you still may get burned.  People will hurt you.  You won't get the promotion or the position you want.  You will be taken advantage of and feel unappreciated.  But again thank God that He can soothe the burn.  He will give you the courage to forgive.  He will open other doors that no one else can.  He will show you how special you are and will encourage you to step out again. The burn is only temporary.  Take time to soothe the burn but then get back out and enjoy the sun again.

4.  Compromise for those you love...
I am so relieved that we are past all of the kiddie park areas.  Yes the little toddlers are so cute in their little diapers and swim suits.  But come on!  How many times can you sit there and watch them go down the same little mushroom slide?  Ok maybe some of you can but I don't have that much patience.  We had done just about every ride in all three parks and were ready to call it a day.  Bo wanted to go and do the little rope obstacle course in one of the small kid areas.  Reluctantly we all went and sat in the 3 ft. deep water and waited for him to have his turn.  He had about five kids in front of him.  It seemed like the line took forever but we all made sure we kept our eye on Bo.  He was checking to see if all three of us were watching.  It was his moment.  It is what he wanted to do.  He is the youngest and he gets pulled everywhere we want to go.  We owed it to him to do what he wanted to do.  So there we all three sat amongst all the little kids waiting for our boy to get his turn.  When he was done we all smiled and complimented him.  His smile was enough for me.  When you love someone, you have to compromise.  It isn't all about you.  What makes them happy?  It may be small to you but it could mean the world to them.  We often get caught up in leading our lives that we forget there is someone there following.  Though they may not complain and follow contently, stop and ask where they want to go.  They may just take you on a journey that you have never been on.  Get a glimpse into their dreams.  See what makes them smile.  Their smile could bless you in so many ways.  A little bit of compromise can lead to a whole lot of blessing.

5.  Embrace the moment...
Bryan and I gave the kids a choice this year of taking one friend each on the trip or just going as a family.  To our surprise they chose for us to just go as a family.  Bryan and I embraced the fact that this may be the last time they like hanging out with just us.  It was so refreshing just having our two boys with us.  We talked, we laughed, and we argued like a family.  We talked about how it won't be like this forever.  Friends and girlfriends will probably tag along at some point.  Don't get me wrong, I love having people with us.  But I cherished the fact that we could still enjoy our time together as a family of four.  My boys actually got along for the most part.  They acted like brothers.  Every ride was a competition.  Who would finish first?  Whose tube could get in front of the other?  I know girls will come a long at some point and that is perfectly fine.  Although I can't imagine Bryan around a girl.  He is way too protective and just looking at all the young girls in their bathing suits at the water park, I am afraid Bryan would want to completely keep her locked up and covered up.  Only time will tell.  I think Bryan and I smiled the whole time because this trip was refreshing.  Our heart is just so full of love for our two boys.  When I sit back and watch them I can see myself and Bryan in them.  Each night we ate dinner we prayed as usual over our meal.  I couldn't help but give thanks to God for giving us this time together.  This is time we won't get back.  All through the park I saw people with phones, go pros and selfie sticks.  Though I thought it would be cool to capture some pictures, I was glad to be able to have the memories embedded in my heart and soul.  Embrace the moment.

You may think it is silly that I got all of this from a waterpark.  But I like learning life lessons through experiences.  I can't help but smile and be thankful that we were able to take time out and enjoy each other with no distractions.  I love seeing God in everything.  I love knowing that He is with us wherever we go.  Now it is back to work and back to schedules.  Bills are still coming in and responsibilities still have to be fulfilled.  For a moment though, we were able to laugh, lay back on a tube, and just enjoy the ride.

"My head is under water but I am breathing fine"

Thank you Lord!

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Perfect

In my last blog I talked about trying to simplify my life.  So you may be wondering how that is going.  Truth is, I don't know that I have slowed down enough to know if I have simplified things or not.  I have tried not to post as much on social media.  Our Pastor hit on social media a bit in his message.  He was encouraging us to not get caught up in other people's lives.  Sometimes we get a false sense of who people really are because they post what they want you to see.  I try to post mostly positive things and that is truly a direct reflection of who I am.  I definitely don't want people to think my life is perfect though.  Only with God's help am I able to stay grounded in the midst of this crazy world.

My marriage is wonderful but not perfect.  Bryan and I went out on our first date 18 years ago on Valentines Day.  People always told me the first 5 years of marriage would be rough.  But I didn't think those years were all that bad.  We really have grown up together.  I do remember a time when we argued over something stupid and I threatened to leave him.  We were newly married and I thought I would say that to him and he would come running after me and profess his undying love for me.  I remember he looked at me and sternly said "Hope, if you walk out that door don't come back.  I am not going to spend the rest of my life playing games like this.  I am not coming after you."  Somehow I knew he was serious and I stayed.  That was the best thing he could have said in that moment.  We laugh about that argument still till this day.  I have never attempted that threat again.  We have laughed so much throughout our marriage.  We have both cried.  We have both had moments where life has taken a toll.  But neither of us has ever quit giving our all.  I am sure there are times when he wants to get away from me because I am nagging.  And there are times I could hit him.  But there are more days when I look at him and know that my life doesn't work without him.  He is my best friend.  If people ever ask me for marriage advice, I always tell them to put God first, laugh a lot, don't go home crying to momma and don't sweat the small stuff.  My mom told me something that has always stuck with me.  Sometimes you just want to scream because he leaves his underwear or shoes on the floor.  But it is just as easy at times to just pick them up, smile and go on about your business.  I believe life can be hard but loving my husband is easy.

My kids are great but not perfect either.  Christian was the horrible baby.  There were times when I was like please just make this baby stop crying.  He cried at every Christmas performance through his years at daycare.  He ended up going to school without all of that crying mess and has turned out to be an excellent student.  But I remember the time in 3rd grade when he forged our signature because the teacher caught him writing down a word that was in his library book about a female dog.  I was in disbelief but I am not one to assume that my kids won't mess up.  Bryan was working loss prevention at the time and had to interrogate people who were stealing or being dishonest at their job.  So Bryan came home and sat Christian down, and basically interrogated him like a criminal.  Christian finally broke and came clean.  I think there was spanking, grounding and apologizing and a whole lot of crying involved in all of that.  Since then he really hasn't had any other mishaps at school.  Sure we are getting into the teenage years.  Every time I try to tell him something he replies quickly with the "I already know mom" line.  Of course I won't be outdone so I am sure to get the last word every time. 
Bo, on the other hand, was an easy baby but ever so hard to potty train.  He is Mr. Social but that has gotten him in trouble several times.  His teacher last year called me into a conference and spent fifteen minutes telling he how wonderful my son is but that he was beginning to talk a little too much in class.  She told me how she didn't want me to go home and get on to him.  I told her that I would address it and that if I didn't address things like this then she wouldn't be complimenting my child as much as she had.  My kids know that if you get in trouble at school you are going to get it at home too.  I have prayed so much for them but I have found myself praying even more lately.  I have asked God for guidance so many times.  They are growing up, growing up fast and in a world full of chaos.  I know they are just one choice away from making a mistake.  I know that things I thought they may never do, they just might.  I pray that I am making the right decisions for them and for their future.  Am I pushing too hard or not enough?  Do I give them enough responsibilities?  Do I let them fall or do I do my best to protect them?  Do I say no when everyone else is saying yes?  Is saying no my need for control or is it truly what is best for them?  Do I say yes when everyone else is saying no because it is what is right for my son?  These are all questions that play over and over in my mind.  And I know I have to seek God for the answers. A mom's heart is forever longing for her kids to feel loved and secure and to always know that she will be there through it all.

My life is so worth living but definitely not perfect.  My house has torn up carpet from my goofy dog that hasn't been repaired.  I have debt that I need to pay off.  My garage is a tripping hazard right now.  We get it all cleaned and then something happens and it ends up back in the same messed up shape.  My car hasn't been washed in a month.  I have relationships that have gone sour and I honestly don't know how to fix them other than through prayer.  I have gone off on my kids because I was just having a bad day.  I have let people down.  I have opened my mouth when I shouldn't have.  I have lost my cool at a sporting event.  I have a crooked face still from bells palsy but I am more than healed.  I have been angry at God.  The truth is I am pretty messed up.

But I do know that God is perfect.  And He perfectly pursues us.  I don't believe in karma.  Yes, I believe that you reap what you sow.  But I don't believe that every mistake you make or everything you do wrong will haunt you forever.  I believe in God's grace and forgiveness.  He never gives me exactly what I deserve.  I have messed up plenty and His grace has been right there to scoop me back up and help me get on the right path.  See as humans we aren't perfect and that is ok.  We will hold each other to standards sometimes that are unfair.  People will let you down and hurt your feelings.  But people can't satisfy all of your needs or desires.  There is only One who can do that.  We forget to let God handle all the things that we can't. 

I say all of this to show that sometimes I don't want to put myself out there because I never want to paint a false picture of who I am.  I am a child of God and at times I act just like a child, a selfish brat to be exact.  God is with me each and every day.   Many times He has to step in and perfect all of the imperfections.  My life is not perfect.  Just like you, I am constantly seeking His guidance and perfect will for my life.

May you rest in His perfect word and know that His love is perfect!