The Grub Master

“If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” James 1:5

Dear Reader, I’m suffering from the dreaded mom-guilt. This is a common symptom is my parenting repertoire. Maybe it’s because I’m trying to make up for us living in a world with a giant “D” for Divorce on our chests. Maybe it’s because I had everything growing up and more and I want that for my children. Maybe this is just my own affliction to overcome. Here’s what my current case is…

My middle son, Carter, is going on a camp out this weekend with the Boy Scouts. I love that he’s a Boy Scout! I have mad respect for the scouts and can’t wait for the day when I can get a license plate that says I’m the proud mom of an Eagle Scout. I’m completely on board with their mission, high ideals and have made many Pine Wood Derby cars in my life. I’ve been the Den mom and put my time in but as the boys have gotten older, I’ve stepped aside and been grateful for the men that have come alongside our troop to help these boys learn and honor the motto “be prepared.”

The campout begins tonight. Carter was assigned the task of Grub Master. This is the scout that plans the meals for the weekend, sends his mom to the grocery store to get the items and packs said items. Then the task of cooking and cleaning is distributed among the boys for the weekend so they can work together and take turns doing the different jobs. Carter needs to do this for his Eagle requirement so as much as I hate when he is Grub Master (because it’s a pain for me) I do understand the necessity. Well…other plans have come up. Carter would like to attend a concert at the high school tonight and have me drive him up to Lafayette tomorrow morning at the crack of dawn (more than an hour from our home). This would entail packing up all the food, bringing it to the troop to load and unload tonight (now making it a responsibility for someone else) and a two-hour car trip for me tomorrow morning at 0 dark hundred hours. I had been stewing about this for days when two separate friends told me today, that I can say “no.” Carter committed to the campout. Carter committed to being Grub Master and I don’t have to give up my Saturday morning (I have a bible study on Saturday mornings that I love).

I’m not sure why saying “no” seemed like such a novel idea. Then it hit me…mom guilt. I want to bend over backward making life easy on my kids. AND guess what? Life isn’t easy. I have another friend that says “fare is what you pay to ride the bus” (I’ve got some really smart friends). So, I’m going to work through my mom guilt that my sweet little boy is going to miss an activity tonight to honor the activity that he has already committed too. I am also going to recognize that I am human and can’t do it all and don’t want to do it all.  I will encourage him to pack up all the food the Grub Master is responsible for and help Carter honor his commitment. I can’t have him part of an organization whose motto is “be prepared” and then get in his way when he needs to develop the skills to do just that. I’m sure he will be less than happy with me when he comes home from school and learns that he needs to be “Johnny on the spot” and get ready to go tonight but I feel that this is the best thing for him. Thinking about the long game of parenting can be a true challenge…brutal at times. But I’m raising someone’s future husband and father and that person needs to be someone who honor’s their commitment and knows how to see things through.

Be prepared…for life.

 

Bridge for Beginners

But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.” John 20:31

I grew up in a card playing family. One of my first memories of my Great-Grandma Fran is her teaching me to play Gin Rummy on a tiny table in their compact kitchen. She and my Great-Grandpa Stew had an apartment in the Chicago suburbs and when I was visiting my grandparents, my Grandma Nancy would always take me to visit her parents. For hours we would play. I learned the tricks of the trade and heard stories of my Great- Grandpa’s gambling days when he was a card shark and actually won someone’s car once!  Was I ever impressed with these escapades and I wanted nothing more than to be good enough at cards to play at the adult table someday. This is also where I learned to shuffle the deck with a killer waterfall. I believe this is an inherited trait as my Great-Grandmother and Grandma could both shuffle like no one’s business. I was in great company! In addition to Gin, I learned King’s Corners and solitaire. However, there was one game that did and continues to elude me. My great white whale…Bridge.

I come from generations of Bridge players. My parents were in Bridge groups growing up and it looked like so much fun! My beloved Playgroup was going to learn but somehow we got sidetracked raising kids and that past time fell by the wayside. I would like to learn with my husband so that we can go on the pro-circuit and be card sharks too, just like my Great-Grandpa Stew. There is only one problem…for the life of me, I can’t figure this card game out! The suits, the bidding, scoring, trump, no trump, slams…it’s all Greek to me. In an effort to once again try and figure this game out, I’ve been acquainting myself with was is allegedly the “best Bridge book for beginners of all time.” (quote from my mom) Charles H. Goren’s Contract Bridge for Beginners. Its copyright is from 1949 and opens with Preliminaries in Chapter 1 “For the purpose of this chapter, I am proceeding upon the assumption that the reader is totally unfamiliar with the deck of playing cards. If in your case I have made an incorrect assumption, please do not, out of a sense of courtesy, linger over these pages. Simply skip this chapter on Preliminaries.” In full disclosure, I am familiar with the deck of playing cards but I’m so impressed by the politeness and tone of this book, I will continue to read the Preliminaries!

This task of acquainting myself with Bridge made me start thinking about the Bible. Because I’m in ministry, I get asked all the time where I would recommend people start when trying to read the Bible. I forget that it can be a daunting task. I want to tell people that they too, can skip the Preliminaries. Some days, I start with a particular book of the Bible. Right now, I’m studying the book of Ruth so I’ve been hanging out there quite a bit. Other days, I close my eyes and open to a completely random area to see what God wants to say to me on a particular day. Usually, it is very relevant and something I need to hear. I don’t believe in coincidence so I know I better pay attention. If I feel like praising God, I go to the Psalms. Life of Jesus? I head to Matthew, Mark, Luke or John. Present day church? Acts. History? First five books of the Bible. I guess my point here is that in order to know God, you have to start somewhere. And he wants you to know him. Don’t treat God like he’s your white whale. Start today, whether it’s with the Preliminaries or somewhere in the middle, he’s waiting for you.

“Written by the leading authority, the foremost teacher, and the most successful bridge player in the world, it will prove a boon to the novice and bridge player alike.”

 

 

 

 

I can do hard things

But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. John 14:26-27

My friend Kate’s mantra is “I can do hard things.” I love this because it resonates with me. I too can do hard things. Now don’t get me wrong…I can count my blessings from here to the moon. I love my husband and have a happy marriage, I am the biggest cheerleader on the planet for my three wonderful sons. I have the absolute best friends that anyone could ever ask for. My parents live close by, are relatively healthy and we have a strong family bond in my nuclear family with my parents, brother, and sister. I love my job and am blessed by incredible co-workers that cheer me on, support me and get in the trenches of ministry with me…side by side. I have terrific volunteers, parents, and children in my ministry. Every day I get to think, plan and create opportunities to share the gospel…I am a truly blessed person!

Then there are the icky parts, the parts that keep me awake at night. The parts that keep me in constant prayer with my Heavenly Father. I have an autoimmune disease that rears its ugly head every so often and reminds me of my humanness. It’s tough for me to put down my cape and tiara and practice self-care in the form of rest. I have an extremely difficult relationship with my ex-husband. How this affects my children weighs so heavily on my heart. Divorce is hard. The ugliness of divorce is hard. The pain years later for my children is hard. Forgiving someone who has never apologized or asked for forgiveness is hard.

Parenting can be very difficult. I have said and done things that I could never imagine in my wildest dreams. We’ve been down some deeply challenging roads. I couldn’t be more grateful for the people who have stood in the gap to provide leadership, integrity, a strong moral compass and grace for my boys. Nothing has had me on my knees at the cross more than praying for my children. Someone once told me that when you become a mom, your heart lies outside your body. To that…I shout a resounding at the top of my lungs AMEN!

I’m reminded of the lyrics to the theme song of one of my favorite childhood shows. “You take the good. You take the bad. You take them both and there you have the facts of life.” I hope that I’m able to enjoy the good things in life because I’ve experienced the bad. It definitely makes the good taste sweeter, seem more special and creates in me a feeling of gratitude for the good and thanks to God for providing it. This doesn’t mean that I can forget or blow off the bad…I hate the bad. I really really hate the bad. I will listen to my body and rest when it needs rest. I will continue to pray for healing in broken relationships. I will continue on my knees in prayer for my beautiful children. God sent me the world’s greatest advocate in the Holy Spirit (sent in HIS name) to be on my side. And when my wings are down or I feel hopeless I pray for a loud reminder of this and God reminds me of his peace and to not be afraid. I think this is really important. God is NOT giving me the peace that is of this world. We live in a world of sin that’s full of the icky stuff….but God gives us something even better. HIS peace. The peace of God. This is how I know I can do hard things. God is my Heavenly Father, he has prepared a place for me and I can rest in his peace.

I can do hard things.

Dust to Dust

“for dust you are and to dust you shall return” Genesis 3:19

Last night was one of those crazy nights. We hastily rushed through dinner. My oldest son was working, my husband took my middle son to youth group and I was left with my youngest son, Cooper. I needed help returning some things to my parents house and had asked for help from Cooper. He REALLY did NOT want to help. After much protest from him, helping became less of a suggetion and more mandatory becasue I wasn’t dealing with an attitude and in this family we help one another. He was sulking and angry as we took the items to my parents house. After some TLC from grandma, he found himself in a better mood. We got home and it was the two of us cozied up on the couch watching a Pacer game while I did my bible study.

I started talking to Cooper about Ash Wednesday and that Lent was fast approaching. Despite me working for a church for eleven years AND raising my children up in the church and a Christian home…you know what’s coming right? Cooper asked “What’s Ash Wednesay?” (sorry reader, if you’re looking for tips on being the perfect parent you should definintely switch to someone else’s blog). Despite my inital internal despair that I had failed (yet again) to sear the traditions of the church on the hearts of my children, I gave the brief summary of Ash Wednedsay being the start of Lent and the 40 days leading up to Easter. That this was a time of rememberance of the sacrifice Jesus made for us. We talked about people giving things up for Lent…suggestions included Snap Chat, soda and candy. I told Cooper that I tried to look at this as 40 days to become a better Christian. How will I end this Lenten season being more like Jesus than when I began? Do I give up gossip? Foolish spending? Trusting in myself more than God?

Just as I am beginning to think that I’m losing Cooper on this topic, he surprises me. He announces that this year he is going to give up needless anger for Lent. This! Out of the mouth of my 13 year-old teenage son. His thougthfulness and understanding of the topic amazed me and I felt that he was understanding the concept of sacrifical giving during this time of Lent. I shared with him that was an excellent sacrfice during this next 40 days and told him I would pray for his success.

I sat in Ash Wednesday service today and received my ashes. I feel deeply contemplative today as I think about the next 40 days and what it means to have a savior in Jesus Christ. I’m so grateful for this hope. I know how the story ends. I know who is victorious. I know who conquers death. I know that his sacrifice means something. Thank you God, that you sent your son to die for me so that I can have eternal life with you.

Go get your ashes….and remember.


The Dirty “D” word

Where for forty days he (Jesus) was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing during those days, and at the end of them, he was hungry. The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread.”  Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone.’” Luke 4:2-4

I’m going to say it right off the bat…The Dirty “D” word is for DIET. I think I’ve tried almost every diet known to man. Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig, Nutrisystem, Atkins, Mediterranean, Whole 30…I’ve been in (and out) of The Zone. And guess what? I think they all work! If you are determined and have committed to making the long term changes affiliated with these dietary plans then I think anyone can be successful. Then why have I failed? Why do I have a trunk full of weight loss books waiting to be sold back at my nearest neighborhood Half Price Book Store? I’m pretty sure this is because I have FOMO (fear of missing out…on the next food driven celebratory soiree) or maybe I just get lazy. I’m not big on New Year’s resolutions but I did vow that I would look at how I approach areas of weakness in my life and how I could do a better job at being intentional in those areas to see growth and progress. I purchased the book Full, by Asheritah Ciuciu (I know. I know. Another book…I AM an author and will tell myself that this is for the great good of authors everywhere). The difference is that this isn’t a diet book. No quick fix, no easy meal plans for busy moms on the go and no diet. This book is about the connection to healthier relationships with food and a healthier relationship with Christ. Well, who wouldn’t want that?!? I read on….

I have a lot highlighted in this book so far but here are a few of the “big” ideas that have really resonated with me.

“No matter whether we’re eating healthfully or bingeing on comfort foods, we will not find the satisfaction we seek until we realize our cravings are meant to point us to God.”

“We don’t need another diet; we need the sanctification that comes by the power of the Spirit.”

“No comfort food can match the comfort I’ve found in Jesus.”

“Food cannot fix anything-God is the only one who can satisfy us because He created us to find our satisfaction in Him.”

There’s LOTS more in this book and it’s taking me a while to not only read but process what God is saying to me through this study.

I’ve decided to practice the discipline of self-control while I read this study. I’m doing it through IF (Intermittent Fasting). I fast for 16 hours and can eat during an 8-hour window. I take this one day at a time. I’m trying to really depend on Jesus for EVERYTHING and this includes finding satisfaction in Him. Living for Him does take sacrifice and it’s NOT easy. But His death for my sins wasn’t easy. Nowhere in the Bible does it say life will be easy. And I know that I can’t live on bread alone and word of God is the living word and I’ll serve that up on a platter any day of the week!

Mom-shaming

Tell everyone who is discouraged, Be strong and don’t be afraid! God is coming to your rescue! Isaiah 35:4

I often wonder why there are people in this world so quick to put others down? I read in Max Lucado’s book, Anxious for Nothing, that Satan is like that annoying guest at a pool party. They know they are going to get wet but they will try their darndest to reach out and grab as many people to take down with them as they possibly can.

I recently had an encounter with one of these types of people. I walked away feeling that I had been mom-shamed. I’m a pretty positive person and when in doubt, ALWAYS resort to kindness (because my mom says you can never regret being kind). I was surprised and discouraged by this conversation and decided that my first course of action was to pray about it. I asked God to reveal clearly what I valued (and be able to articulate) as a parent and raising three teenage sons and to remember my own identity in Christ (and not let some Debbie downer drag me into the deep end of the pool). Here’s my TOP ten list of values as a parent:

Love, love, love, love, love! Above all else, I want my boys to know that they are loved by me and a Heavenly Father that will never forsake them. “We love because he first loved us.” 1 John 4:19

Grace. “Life is measured in love and positive contributions and moments of Grace.” Carly Fiorina

Work Ethic. “You can’t have a million dollar dream on a minimum wage work ethic” Unknown

Honesty. “If it’s not right, don’t do it. If it’s not true, don’t say it.”

Integrity. “Integrity is not something you show others, it’s how you behave behind their back.”

Same Team. “You need to be aware of what others are doing, applaud their efforts, acknowledge their successes and encourage them in their pursuits. when we all help one another, everybody wins.” Jim Stovall

Helping others. “The best way to not feel hopeless is to get up and do something. Don’t wait for good things to happen to you. If you go out and make some good things happen, you will fill the world with hope, you will fill yourself with hope.” Barack Obama

Sense of Humor. “I don’t trust anyone who doesn’t laugh.” Maya Angelou

Identity in Christ. “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you before you were born I set you apart;I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.” Jeremiah 1:5

Gratitude: “Gratitude is the healthiest of all human emotions. The more you express gratitude for what you have, the more likely you will have even more to express gratitude for.” Zig Ziglar

To my sons: I love you more than words can express and one of my greatest joys on this earth is to be your mom. I hope you’ve found me worthy of that calling.

To moms: You’re doing a great job! This is hard work. Build each other up and support one another. We aren’t competing against each other, we are working together to build up the human race.

Mr. Weaver

Romans 12:6-7 We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith;  if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach;

Ninth grade, Environmental Science at Clay Jr. High…meet a less than motivated middle school student who could not care less about school. Surprise, surprise, I was at school for the social aspect. I was not a great student in the early years (actually until I was a junior in college), I was average at best. This was of my own choosing as I had more important things to focus on in my youth; boys, 80’s hair bands and spending time at the mall. Before ninth grade, I’d had good teachers but no one that saw “potential” in me or invested time in me or encouraged me to be more than what I was. I had typically been labeled “lazy” and spent most of my elementary years with my desk right next to the teacher. I missed a lot of recess for talking and not turning in assignments on time. I had yet to be inspired by someone in the school system. Little did I know that was about to change.

Meet Mr. Mark Weaver, a dynamic teacher, grades be damned, he was going to influence and inspire and love kids (all kids) to aim for the stars and reach their full potential. It was the first time I remember being excited to go to a class! His room was chock-full of weird things. Animals, Bee hives that had been evacuated, furs, papers, old projects. It was a cacophony of crap that to this 14-year-old was absolutely magical.  Mr. Weaver was always in a good mood, smiling and greeting students for another great day of ninth grade instruction. It was the first time that I had seen a teacher facilitate learning and encourage curiosity. I remember doing a huge project on Gorillas and it was fun, I learned a ton, and it sparked creativity in me that fueled a fire and I knew that people who were “outside the box” were from my home planet. I thrived in this class and it was all because of Mr. Weaver. I was so inspired that I became a teacher because of him. I like to think my brand of “weird” is a tribute to him and the passion for learning that he brought out in me.

I have had the enormous pleasure of seeing Mr. Weaver as I have grown into adulthood (advantage of staying in your hometown) and my oldest son, Connor, had him as a teacher as well! What a joy for my son to learn from a teacher that had such a profound impact on my life!

Mr. Weaver is retired now. My son reached out to him to interview him for a project he had at the high school. Last week, Connor and I got to sit down and share a meal with Mr. Weaver. I can’t describe how special I felt all over again as the memories came flooding back. Mr. Weaver had been part of a teacher study program in Japan and had heard a survivor talk from the Hiroshima bombing. As I sat there and listened to him share stories, I was the same 14-year-old girl who had been so privileged to be in his class and share his electric energy once again. I hope that I am half the teacher that Mr. Weaver was and is. I also hope I have the opportunity to continue to spend time with him. He has many more stories to tell and I have ears to listen. Thank you, Mr. Weaver, for being the best teacher I ever had!