Saturday, October 13, 2012

A picture is worth more than you know!

On Friday KSBJ brought up a topic that hit close to my heart.  They talked about moms getting back in the picture.  Basically, the topic was about how a lot of times moms are not in the pictures with their kids because they are usually the ones taking them or because they are insecure about their looks. This was my story for years.  Many of you have heard my testimony about this but I am sure a lot of you haven't.
Growing up, I always had some insecurities about my looks but nevertheless I was a ham in front of a camera.  I love to smile and was always "cheesing" for a picture.  About a year after I had Christian, I was going through some mixed emotions in my life.  Life was good with Bryan and my baby boy but something was missing and I didn't know what.  I was a new mom trying to find myself again.  Bryan left for work not knowing what to say to me so I just laid there on the bed and prayed to God for patience and peace in my life.  In the middle of my tears, my right eye began to twitch uncontrollably.  I called Bryan, who was a busy store manager at the time.  Just hearing that my eye was twitching didn't really concern him at the time.  Looking back now, I am sure that sounded silly. I called my mother who told me to call the doctor since I have a history of lupus.  The doctor immediately told me to head to the ER to make sure I wasn't having a stroke.  A good friend of mine met me there and by the time I reached the hospital the whole right side of my face was distorted.
I was in good spirits not really hurting and ignorant as to what was going on.  The doctor examined me, and after getting the results of the MRI told me I had bells palsy and that my face would improve over time.  They gave me a round of steroids and told me to follow up with my primary doctor. When Bryan came in that night, I could tell by the look on his face that he was in shock.  I knew it was bad and I knew he felt helpless.
There was nothing the hospital could do and I was sent home left to deal with the ugly aftermath of it all.  When Christian who wasn't even walking yet saw me, he looked at me strangely.  It was a huge difference.  Despite the condition I was in, the Lord gave me this incredible peace to deal with it.  I was able to get myself out of the house and go to church where my church family was so supportive. During the worst stages of it, I was still able to go out in public despite the strange looks I got from some people.  But in having that peace, I never knew what a trial I would go through over time and how much it would effect my life. 
I didn't think much of it for a while until the church was having pictures made for a directory.  We went to have our pictures made and afterwards the lady shows you the proofs you can choose from.  I wasn't prepared for that moment.  It was the first time I had seen a picture of myself since having bells palsy.  Everyone had told me how much my face improved but when she pulled up those proofs tears began to fill my eyes.  The poor lady didn't know what to say.  I broke down!  I told Bryan to get the pictures of Christian by himself and choose the one for the directory.  The whole way home I sat in silence crying my eyes out telling myself that the image I saw was the ugliest image I had ever seen.  And so began a battle that would scar me for so many years.  I did not take a picture after that.
I remember looking in the mirror constantly looking for a change, hoping for a miracle.  I just knew that with all the prayers that the Lord was going to instantly heal my face.  That didn't happen.  I questioned myself as a person thinking maybe I was vain or something.  For about 4 years, I didn't take a family picture.  There were no family portraits or Christmas pictures.  I was done.
Then over time and after praying I realized that my boys were growing up and that they had no pictures with their mom.  I didn't want to smile but the Lord wanted me to smile at Him.  The Lord was and is always working on my behalf.
So when Bo was 2 and Christian was 6, I decided to brave another family portrait.  I went in apprehensively and told the photographer my story about my crooked face.  She said she could touch up anything I didn't like.  Though I was tempted, I bravely said no.  The call came in a couple of weeks later to go and view my picture.  Expecting to turn into a puddle again, I went to see them.  I was actually surprised at how much better my face looked from that first family picture.  That lady will never know what obstacles I had to overcome to even be in that picture. All I could do was praise God!  He is the author and perfecter of my faith.
Now please know that I still have to fight those insecurities.  Most people who know me now would never know that I have had bells palsy.  But doctors always spot it right away. It never fully corrected.  In fact one of my doctors said it was one the worst cases he had ever seen.  There are still facial expressions I can't do.  But over time, I have realized that it is those imperfections that have made me who I am today.  Though it is not the thinnest or the prettiest, there is a story in this face.  And even though I am not the first to jump in a picture, I am getting more comfortable with it.  Crooked or not, I don't want to lose my smile.  I want people to see Jesus in me and I don't know how they can if I don't smile.
As women we all face insecurities.  Especially in the age of social media, it is hard to keep up with all the latest trends.  We all have issues that plague us.  If we have curly hair, we want straight hair.  If we have blond hair, we want dark hair.  If we love love our legs we hate our stomachs.  I know that many of us don't like taking pictures because of some of those reasons and a dozen more that I didn't say.  But remember, God knows your name and knows the very numbers of hairs on your head.  He thinks you are beautiful.  Don't let insecurities get in the way of making memories.  Get in the pictures!  What we think doesn't look right about us, someone else is noticing just how great you look.  Always remember the Lord loves you and He created you from head to toe.  And a beautiful spirit will shine through to the outside.  We were created in His image and that is beautiful beyond measure.
Love you all!

Saturday, October 6, 2012

For the love of sports

What a beautiful day to be outside!  The Rhodes household is getting ready for football.   I enjoy watching my kids play.  Being a sports parent has its challenges but I love every minute of it.
I recall signing up my oldest for his first year in tball and being so excited to wear a team shirt and seeing all the parents beam with pride as they wore theirs.  There was never a question in our house that Bryan would coach.  He loves kids and loves being part of the game no matter what sport it is.
Some people think we are crazy and maybe they are right.  We are crazy about our kids.  And now with two kids playing our world just gets wilder.  We have changed shirts at half time to support both of my boys teams.  Both of us have watched half of one game and rushed over to see the other half of the other game.  We've high-tailed it from the airport just in time to coach one of Christian's games.  Our kids have even gone to evening church in cleats. (Don't judge)
We have had some over-the-top experiences over the years and have made some of the best memories.  Bryan has been an assistant and a head coach over the course of time and he has just sat in the stands.  Personally, I would rather him coach so I don't have to sit next to him and hear him coach from the sidelines.  I have been team mom several times.  Overall the experiences have been great.  We have had all of the emotions that every parent goes through during little league sports.  We have been on the last place team and on the championship team.  We have dealt with happy parents and unhappy parents.  Unfortanetly, we have been criticized and we have been the ones to criticize.  There have been proud moments and moments we would like to forget.  We have had the kid who made the clinching shot and the kid who dropped a critical pass.  We have been on the B team when we thought our kid deserved the A team.  And we have been on the A team knowing that others deserved to be with us as well and weren't.
But through each experience we have learned valuable lessons.  Through sports, we have been able to teach our kids the importance of commitment.  They have learned the importance of being part of a team.  They have learned that in life you don't always get the team you want or the coach you want or the position you want but you do your best whereever you may end up.  Life isn't fair.  And in my opinion, if we teach them that it is we are doing them an injustice.  Sometimes you work hard and still don't get noticed and sometimes your name carries you places that you aren't ready to handle.  But there is One who notices everything we do and one sweet day it will all be worth it.   I have always prayed that my kids would be successful by the Lord's standards and not by the world's standards.  So sometimes "success" looks different for us. 
I am a loud mom who watches the game and cheers for everyone's kids.  It warms my heart to see kids who I have known since they were little hit a homerun or catch a touchdown pass.  I cringe when I see one of them hurt and I get fightin' mad when someone messes with them.  I love to see the kid who always strikes out hit the ball for the first time.  Those moments are so worth it!  In our house we pray for every team that we are on.  Those kids and their parents have been a great part of my life and I wouldn't trade that sports family for anything. Some of the best relationships I have are through sports.  And every year we just get to keep adding more people to our family.
It really doesn't matter what it is that your kids are involved in.  It could be band, or dance, or the science club.  Be excited about it and give it all you can!  There may be ups and downs through the experience but those same experiences build character.  Build on their passions and let them know you are proud of them.  They don't have to be the best according to everyone else.  They just need to be their best and never stop trying!  May the Lord watch over each of your kids.  May He protect them and give His angels charge over them.  God bless!
Go Eagles, Ganders, Texans or whatever team you are!