Friday, March 30, 2012

Remember This {cute stinkers}

Frequent crayon murals on my walls.

Chasing her older cousin around the house so that she can hear the wonderful shriek he produces when hit.

High pitched screams when not being given her way.

"No" being used in every other effort to speak.

My mother used to tell me that God makes the naughty kids extra cute so that they are allowed survive their childhood.



Saturday, March 24, 2012

Why I Chose To Tell My Kids About Trayvon

I, like so many other Americans, get my news online. So I am personally my kids' filter for what news they know about and don't, which, given their ages, isn't much.

But my boys can now tell you who Trayvon Martin is.

Unless you're totally unconnected from any news source, I'm sure you know who I'm talking about. He is the black teenager who was recently gunned down as he walked unarmed through a neighborhood for what more and more evidence suggests was purely racial profiling. And kicker is that his killer was never taken into custody.

So why would I tell my 8 and 9 year old boys this story?

Next to my faith, racism makes my short list for things I feel especially passionate about. Part of this is the fact that I was raised by strongly anti-racist parents, but the biggest reason is that is what racism says about God. When we judge by their skin color, we're judging the beautiful and wonderfully diverse design of a perfect creator. God is too big, wonderful, and multi-faceted to have confined his designs to one skin color. Then He commands us to love one another. No exclusions. And to top it off, our Savior shed His own blood to adopt us into His family. Every color.

And the only way that my white boys (and all my children), whose day to day lives don't include racial profiling, are going to know about this truth is from the mouths of their parents. 

From a young age, my kid's friends have been many different colors, and race didn't seem to even cross their minds. While they were young, we kept it simple with comments like, "Isn't it great that God made us with so many different hair, skin, and eye colors!"  Once while in grocery store with my then 3 year-old Adriana we walked by a woman with a large afro. Adriana caught her breath, "Mom, she's SO beautiful!" I love the eyes of a child. "Yes, baby, yes she is."

Then there was history class. As we sat one morning on the couch during 1st and 2nd grade, Isaiah and Elijah learned for the first time about slavery. Their raw shock and horror was precious and heart-breaking all rolled into one. Isaiah's best friend at the time was from Ethiopia. And Isaiah tried to take it all in, "You mean just because of their skin color?!? You mean Fikadu would be a slave!?!" It was perfect opportunity to stop and talk about the horror of racism. We went on to read about Hitler and so many other atrocities that our human history has to hold.

Since then we've had many other conversations about racism. As I told them the story of what happened to Trayvon, their first reaction was grief. And then as went on to say that the police did not take the killer to jail, Isaiah's jaw literally dropped.

And you know what? That's exactly what I wanted. I want their responses to racism to be shock and horror. It's a God-honoring response. We talked about what we they should do if someone was being racist to someone in front of them.

I'll say it again, if we as their parents don't talk to them, they are left to hear the voices of our culture. We must not be silent. We MUST NOT! In the same way that my dad had a serious talk with his teenage daughters to make sure that we would be open to marrying a man of any other color, we as parents must delight our children with the beauty of different cultures and race; and we must help teach them to reel back in horror when those made in God's image are hated for the way they were created. Racism is alive and well whether you personally deal with it or not.  And I will not sit by. If we keep this a taboo issue or pretend that our kids are just going to be colorblind, if don't talk to our children about this, we're setting up the next generation to judge and hate each other.

You can listen to a much wiser man than I who write about this issue HERE.

Remember This {homemade books}

Around here we do lots of coloring, painting, drawing. Call it art therapy...because when you live with 6 other crazy people you need all the therapy you can get...






Monday, March 19, 2012

Remember This {doing their hair}

I'm still trying to use my camera to capture the moments I want to remember and trying to use my Bible for some truth during the moments I'd rather forget.

For today's post, I want to remember these days that my girls are little enough to let me act out all of my pent-up, inner girliness on their hair. I know the day will come when they'll have strong hair style opinions, and I'll be left secretly cringing as they walk out of the house. There was certainly more than one outing that my mother had to be seen with a poofy-bangs mess of a daughter. (Though, after having her beauty advice ignored, she does get the last laugh since I have to endure the long-standing punishment of having my hair choices immortalized in the family photo album.)

But for now, I get to treat my girls like my old Barbies with their manes subject to the whims of my hair desires.




Friday, March 16, 2012

Remember {little perched chefs}


Friday, March 9, 2012

Remember This {attentive dolls}







Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Forget This {the other moments}

Before I share any more "Remember This" posts, I want to get real with you. For every beautiful moment in my day that I want to remember, there's another moment I wish I could forget- the kids fighting, me unfairly correcting one of them, a screaming baby, an unkind word from kid to kid, another unkind word from me, a bathroom whose cleaning is long overdue, me getting angry.

And there is a woman that is standing on my shoulder judging me. She's perfect. And I find I compare myself to her over and over and over again.

You see, I made her. She's a figment of my imaginings and a collection of best qualities in all the women I know. 

She's a little bit of my friend whose house always looks like the cleaning lady just left,
and my friend who makes almost everything her family uses,
a little of my friend who always has a fun activity for her kids,
and some of my friend who shows hospitality to almost every person she's ever met,
a bit of my friend who has such mad decorating skills that her home belongs in a magazine,
and my friend who hand-makes every card and gift,
a little of my friend who has such encouraging things to say to everyone,
and some of my friend who seems to spend the bulk of her day playing on the floor with her kids,
a bit of my friend who budgets like an accountant,
and touch of my friend who can garden like nobody's business,
and a lot of my friend who speaks unfailingly kind to her children.

And she haunts me.

I just can't be her, and again my Bible comes to my rescue. 

"With the mighty deeds of the Lord God I will come; I will remind them of your righteousness, yours alone." (Ps.71:16)

My kids don't have a perfect mom, and they know it. But if there was a perfect mom, there wouldn't be a need for Jesus. And I am called to use my failings to remind my children and myself of the Lord's righteousness, His alone. He is the only one who never failed, and I lay in bed many a night so overwhelmed with gratefulness that when God the Father looks at me, He sees Jesus...regardless of the day I had or the moments I would like to forget.


Monday, March 5, 2012

Remember This {storytime}

Last week as my older kids played outside and I made dinner, Ava sat in a laundry basket full of clothes with her trusty baby doll opposite her. She patted the doll's back, talked softly to her, and spooned invisible food into her mouth. Overwhelmed with gratefulness, I had another one of my "remember this" moments. I rush around too often and am trying to learn to stop and just soak it all in. When I'm packing my child up for college, when I'm sitting around looking at my empty house, I hope that all these moments come flooding into my mind. I didn't grab the camera for fear that one diversion might ruin that near perfect moment. But I do want to try to make an effort to capture those moments in my day that will one day make me smile and nod, "I remember that."

So for today my "remember this" moment is storytime:




Thursday, March 1, 2012

It Started With A Hurricane

August 2011. For an entire year, I had looked forward to it. It was our third family beach vacation which had become the highlight of summer. But this year we were staying for not one but two weeks. We'd heard over and over again how relaxing a two week vacation was. It was happening just before we went back to school, and I thought of it as my rejuvenation before the grind of the school year. There was so much planning and prep, but I kept thinking how worth it all that work would be. We got to our beach home; and as I unpacked, I repeatedly contemplated how wonderful it would be not to have to pack up again for a whole fourteen days. 

But I hadn't factored in Irene. Ah, yes, Irene. Four days into my blissful retreat, Hurricane Irene demanded our evacuation. And frankly, I was furious. My husband tried to comfort me and speak truth to me, but I really didn't care. We drove home on the eve before what was supposed to be my son's beach birthday. I glared at the rain and the traffic. We went home to my parents hoping to be able to return after the storm had passed. I woke up mad and had mood swings between angry and depressed. This was my vacation. How dare I lose my vacation! Thoughts of people who were going through much more serious trials than mine came to my head, people who couldn't even dream of a vacation. I justified my anger, "They have their trial and I have mine."

And while after five days at my parent's we were able to return to the beach, I look back now at what I believe God was revealing in my heart. I wanted comfort. I wanted comfort more than anything else. More than joy, more than glorifying a sovereign God in a very minor trial. But that was just the beginning, just the event that allowed the veil of my heart to be peeled back so that I could see the idolatry going on inside. Now, unbeknownst to me, God had a plan to starting dealing with it.

We came back from the beach and within 10 days my husband was laid off from his job and my girlfriend who was like a sister and whom I had hoped to live by one day, was moving. I wasn't too worried about the job loss. With all my husband's clearances and qualifications we should have a job in a couple of weeks, I reasoned. But the moving of my girlfriend was not so easy for me. I cried out to God and cried on my husband's shoulder. I pouted over the fact that it seemed like all the girls I got close to moved. Finally during prayer time one more God confronted me. Are you supposed to cling to anything but me? Why do you have such a tight grasp over this friendship? While it seems like a basic truth when I write it out, it hit me that morning like a ton of bricks. And with that, God began to peel back the onion layers of my comfort.

As for my husband's job, that didn't happen the way I thought either. The government began to cut defense programs and suddenly almost no one had immediate positions open. Weeks turned into months. In November we thought he had a job. Then he was told his clearance didn't transfer to this particular department. At Christmas he got another job, but it's March and the government still hasn't given the contract a solid start date. And you know what? It's honestly turned into the most beautiful season of my life. Let me repeat that: the most beautiful season of my life. God has used this time to reveal more and more of Himself to me, to school me in spiritual disciplines, to force me to rely of Him, and to make me question what taking up the cross of Christ looks like and what I'm living for.

I realized that in my mind, my future was like a white board full of scribbles. I'd marked it up with plan upon plan for my future. We would live in this place, these people would be in my life forever, my family would look like this, we would travel here, we would do this or that. I had it all planned. I probably wouldn't have admitted it out loud, but almost everything on that board of my future was all about me. But God began to do a great kindness to me; He began to erase that board. Erasing my lists and plannings and helping me to see that a white board was all that I was supposed to see as looked into my future. Because a blank white board means that I am looking for Him to direct my future and what it would look like. It means that preconceived notions are gone, and it means that I suddenly have to seek hard after Him for the next step.

God brought me to verses like Luke 12:16-21: "And he told them a parable, saying, 'The land of a rich man produced plentifully, and he thought to himself, 'What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?' And he said, "I will do this: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.”’ But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.”

The man in this parable was not a murderer or a thief. All this man was trying to get was security and comfort. And yet God emphatically declares him a fool.  Through this season I've seen what a fool I was. I've realized the pointless, emptiness of living for my comfort. As I've dug deeper into Scripture and spent time hearing from men like John Piper and Francis Chan, God has beginning to shift my view of a life well lived. I've been given the gift a of desperate fear of wasting my life. Scripture is calling me to live with eternity in view, and my comfort has nothing to do with this. Radical, passionate love for Christ and storing up treasures in heaven has everything to do with it. It's Biblical but counter-intuitive: the more God has shown me to live for Him and for others, the more joy I'm receiving.

Don't think me a finished product. I keep raising my hand to the white board of the future to write my expectations, but I am reminded again to leave it blank, to yield those hopes and dreams to His perfect plan. And the even more wonderful thing is that God has been working on Steven as well. Suddenly, we're looking together at what God is calling us to, and He's already giving us direction. My desire for comfort is not dead, but it's certainly taken a divine hit.

And I can tell you with all of my heart that I wouldn't trade the last 6 months for anything. If I had known in July of the fruit that would come of it, I would have asked God for a job loss, a friend's move...

...and even a hurricane.