Favorite Things Tuesday: Father’s Day Edition

Here we are again. Tuesday.

I took a look at the week ahead and saw madness. I saw that I had approximately zero nights at home between Sundays. My gracious husband took the kids to track tonight so I am sitting in quiet, writing, preparing for an upcoming sermon series and enjoying the worship music in the background. My work brain is fried but yet sitting down at this computer, a very different computer with all the necessary research tools around me, I am taking a deep breath. Yesterday it looked like a mile run and walking the track while the kids had practice. Tomorrow, it will look different than today.

But here I am. It was a full weekend and like most Father’s Day services, I have had thoughts and feelings all over the place. Gratitude was the theme. Then Anthony brought a message on Sunday morning. It’s the kind of message that comes from a place of brokenness and places that God Himself has made whole. Who doesn’t need that?!

Here was what hit me this year. While I can say this about the women in my family, and I will, in light of Father’s Day, I need to talk about them.

When I was young, I just knew I had a lot of people. Maybe not a lot, more like a few but in God’s economy of family, the few can be an army. I had an army. Here is what makes me cry, I still do.

When I was young I didn’t realize just how much of a capacity God can give to men to love and to father others. I didn’t realize it then because I just lived it and didn’t know any different.

When I was young, I didn’t know the cost of love. I didn’t know that God can use those who have walked broken roads to love the biggest and the best.

When I was young, it didn’t occur to me that I was getting glimpses of the Father heart of God. I knew little then. I am wrecked by it as an adult.

When I was young, I held on to the words of the men in my family. I didn’t realize how special it was until I got older and I realized how their words shaped me. It didn’t occur to me that those words were words that protected me. I am about to prepare a message…about the bible…to give in front of people…and tell them about Jesus. I haven’t had to overcome years of being told I couldn’t or shouldn’t when it comes to ministry. Why? The boldness of a heavenly Father and Godly men who spoke truth and encouragement (and correction…trust me) over my life.

When I was young, I thought it was movie nights, Sunday mornings, kitchen tables, silly jokes, basketball games I was NEVER going to win and a thousand other moments.

As an adult, I see far more clearly of what shapes someone. I see how it shapes what I find special. I see how their instruction shaped how I read the bible with curiosity, wondering what something means or how did they get water on that mountain.

When I was a kid, I just thought it was my life and man, it’s not like everyone else’s. That was ok.

As an adult, I see my kids, my cousins, nieces and nephews, church family and friends and I see how this gift goes on.

Father’s Day can overwhelm with gratitude, regret, disappointment and happiness. Maybe it is a day of great heartbreak, questions and unanswered prayers.

I don’t know what it is for you, but I know what to do when Monday comes. Sometimes we can’t do anything on a day full of emotion… When Monday shows up, I remember what has shaped me. I remember how it continues to. I know the kind of love that makes the difference and that God is who enlarges our capacity. He enlarges our capacity beyond our mistakes, inadequacies, grief, defeat and victories. He does it. And that, that is when we love like Jesus. That is when the Father heart of God is on full display…through broken men and women who are open to Him.

So regardless of your parental status, hear me loud and clear: YOU MATTER! Your influence rests in a capacity that is beyond you and that is where you will see it shine far brighter than you ever thought possible.

Do it! They are watching.

 

 

 

 

 

Favorite Things Mon…Tuesday: Definitely Tuesday Edition

Priorities. Priorities. My how they take a hit once summer rolls around.

And yesterday, it was Monday ALL DAY. I still have an unhealthy relationship with the first week day of the week. I’m a work in progress.

And it’s summer.

We see it everywhere. At the beginning of a new year, everyone is getting in shape, attempting to make smarter choices, quit something, start something, go to church, go to the gym, organize your junk drawer…

Then summer happens. You have either kept up your new health routine and are tempted to take an extended break or your “summer body” ambitions tanked by January 22nd. The things we quit, we take back and the things we had good intentions to start lose their luster. If you decided to give church a try, you have learned that community is messy and maybe you aren’t sure if it’s worth it (by the way, it always is). That junk drawer is still junk.

We are at the half way point for 2017. I don’t like to think of how fast it has gone but the truth remains. Summer. Is. Here.

Seasons always prepare us for new things. We had dinner with friends this past Sunday and the topic of seasons came up. Our friend said that once he looked at life in seasons, it made life better. It makes processing life a little easier. It’s a little freeing when you realize that the hard thing you are walking through isn’t forever.

Here are a few things I have learned about summer:

It requires more effort.

A lot more effort. Sure, there are vacations and day trips and pool time and tan lines and thank God for it. There is a different rhythm. I work full-time and my husband often works from home. And we have kids. Boredom isn’t an option. The school rhythm is gone but that is the only change to our normal pace of crazy. My husband is the master summer planner. It takes effort and calendars and focus. Our sanity stays in tact when we (he) take the time to plan.

The heat prepares me for fall. 

Apply that where you will. It’s true. I need to remember this every year. And every year, it’s true. I run. I run a lot. My favorite temp is somewhere in the 50’s, the 60’s is perfect for a tank top. It was 76 and humid when I started out a good hour before the sun this morning. The quick pace about did me in. But here is the joy of it: It prepares me for the next season. Fall and cooler temps will eventually return. And to be honest, in Austin, the super early run may be the only time I notice a cooler morning till November. But when I can push through the heat, I will feel like I am flying come October-ish. Pushing through the hard thing in life is never wasted. The challenge does prepare you for the next season even when I don’t want it to.

Don’t Stop Believing

Set a goal and stick with it. Is it a focus on community? Be consistent with prayer, bible study and discipleship? Maybe you set a health or fitness goal. There are a thousand possibilities here. Think of it as a mid-year resolution if you must but I think it is always more than that.

I can get a little overboard with goals based on past experience. For example, I had a huge reading goal last year. I lost count of how many books I read. I thought I would set a more ambitious goal for this year. Negatory. I mean, I did set it, it just isn’t happening. It’s been a different year so far. I’ve had to learn to show myself some grace but it doesn’t mean I have given up. Certain goals in my life need adjusting while some I want to up the ante.

I need to take a deep breath but not give up.

What ever the year has held so far, let’s take a look at June through fresh eyes. I need the reminder. I need the beginning of summer to not bum me out. I get mad when my kids get to wear bathing suits and I have to wear pants. So I bought cotton dresses. I win. When I get bummed that my Favorite Things Monday is happening on a Tuesday, I take another look at my calendar and choose another time to write.

I need to refocus. While a vacation is coming and the countdown is on, the countdown still has me counting a lot of days. But summer, it prepares me for the next thing.

Last Day of School: A Momma’s Letter

We made it. Elementary School is done.

I have thought about this one thousand times. Will I cry that last day of elementary school? Probably. But let me be clear, it is not for the reason you think.

During my son’s last school performance, I started see the posts of parents wanting to cry because their baby has grown up and is off to middle school. I had very different thoughts. This is a big deal and while the growing up baby and middle school on the horizon has me with lots of thoughts and prayers, I am writing this for the momma like me.

We made it. They made it. Instead of tears shed over my baby growing up, I feel like once the last day of school has come and gone, I may weep out of sheer relief.

Before I go any further, I have to say this about my kid’s school. I love Wells Branch Elementary. I sent his teacher an email last week and told her I would need her to pull a Mr. Feeney and follow him to middle school. I’m not sure she took my suggestion seriously. I wasn’t kidding.

Cephas had a very difficult elementary school experience. Kinder was great, first grade was nice, then second grade hit and so did the learning challenges, bullies and learning a whole new way of walking through elementary school, parenting and learning to understand your out of the box kid in what feels like a very boxed system.

And this is the kid who is a bit more like his mother…and even I was at a loss.

I learned how wrong I was about the boxed system. I know this is NOT the same experience for a lot of kids and families. I also know that there could very well be a fight in front of me but for today, I have to acknowledge the present. There were days I wanted to cry seeing who he was and refused to see that in light of grades and standardized letters. There is always more than those letters and thank God for teachers that were quick to respond. We have celebrated every passing grade imaginable. Judge me if you must, but there were seasons where we knew how hard he worked for what was a low but passing grade.

Bullying is no joke and it has been a hard reality. I will tell you it was never taken lightly. Ever. I see over and over again how incredibly blessed we are, how fought and cared for Cephas was at school, how his differences were not seen as a negative, how seen he was by teachers and administrators. In what has been an incredibly challenging few years, it could have been far more difficult.

So for those of you who are walking through this last day or so of school feeling as if you are taking a breath for the first time all semester (or since kindergarten), you are not alone. We have said every year since 2nd grade, that if we could make it through that, we could make it through anything. And every year the challenges were bigger and we made it. Cephas made it. We made it. He has an army of people who love him and fight for him.

Is middle school a whole other list of scary for this momma? It can be, but like I said before, I have to acknowledge the present and see the big picture in light of the last few years.

We see our kids strengths and their weaknesses. We see what makes them tick and what makes them come alive. We speak to them, encourage their steps, pray for them and with them, guide them and see them.

It’s not been an easy road on this momma’s heart. The relief is real. I will probably cry tears of relief that he did it and is on to the next thing.

Today, we celebrate! There are many celebrations to come, a lot more milestones to achieve and mountains to climb. But today, we celebrate the present! We all made it!