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Archive for May, 2013

Parenting teens is not easy … duh!

There are so many freaking emotions contained in those hairy, hormonal, human bodies. Add to that the ebb and flow of my own hormones and you have what is known as a disaster waiting to happen.

There are those days when they are not talking to you, or they are disrespecting you, or they are simply too busy with their friends to make time to fill your own cup.

Some days I just want a pause button. No, what I really want is a rewind button!

I want to rewind to the days that I tucked them in each night … rather than them tucking me in. The days that when I’ve wigged out at them (for no good reason), and apologized, and they wrapped their arms around me and said, “it’s okay mommy, I forgive you,” and it really was all over. The days they were eager to go to a Disney movie … okay, at least one of mine will still drop everything for that!

I am not forgetting just how difficult it is for them to be walking the tightrope of the teen years, I am simply looking for an oasis in this hot, dry desert.

And I found it!

Hannah pic

The other night I received a FaceTime request on my phone … by the daughter of my friend. Her daughter is eight, and has recently learned how to connect with me in this way.

What delight!

My friend is so good to share her little ones with me! They come to swim in our pool, or make muffins, or play video games. Or we go to a play, or for ice cream. They draw me pictures (see above), and read me original stories, and show me their Lego creations. We take pictures, and go for walks and watch movies.

On my phone, the other night, were giggles of excitement, from both she and her much younger (six year old) brother, ‘I love you’ and ‘good night’, along with the thrill of simply making the connection just made my day! Their giggles, innocence, and simplicity fed a part of my soul that was parched from the ‘mature, adult’ life of parenting teens.

Our FaceTime ended

I walked around the rest of the evening with a big smile plastered on my face

and I thought to myself,

every parent of a teen needs a younger child in their life!

Now don’t think that I do not love and adore my teenage children … they are the apples of my eyes! Even through the body odor, the sullen attitudes, the corpse-like bodies that need to be awakened each morning, the relationship issues, the tears, the refusal to clean up Mr. Shitake (aka the dog poo), I love them and would die for them.

A younger child in your life while raising a teen, though, gives us the reminder of a slower, less complex, more controlled phase of life … not easier, just simpler. It reminded me of simpler days with my now taller than me teens. It reminded me of sharing similar experiences with them, as I did my little friends.

Sweet days do not end when our teens grow up, but it is nice to recreate those sweet memories of simpler days.

Thanks my little friends.

 

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En route to work yesterday the radio announcer talked about a young man who had recently become a YouTube sensation. What made him rise to the top was his music, his joie de vivre (the way he lived life to the full) … and the fact that he was dying.

Zach Sobiech, a teenager from Lakeland, Minnisota, from a family of six … mother (Laura), father (Rob), Alli (22), Sam (19), and Grace (14). A senior at high school. A student making plans for college. A musician. A young … young man.

Zach-Sobiech-3-600

At fourteen Zach was diagnosed with osteosarcoma (bone cancer), and he spent much of the next four years fighting for his life with surgeries and treatments. In May of 2012, Zach’s doctors informed him, and his family, that they felt he only about a year to live … at seventeen years of age.

Encouraged by his mom to write letters to the ones he loved, Zach threw his heart into writing music instead. In December his single, Clouds, was released on YouTube, and at the time of this writing, there have been over three and a half million hits.

On Monday, May 20, 2013, Zach completed his earthly journey, breathing his last with those he loved most, and who will miss him most, gathered around.

“And we’ll go up, up, up
But I’ll fly a little higher
We’ll go up in the clouds because the view is a little nicer
Up here my dear
It won’t be long now, it won’t be long now”
‘Clouds’ (Zach Sobiech)

SoulPancake produced a story about Zach, and his incredible will to live each day as if he were dying. “My Last Days” is worthwhile time spent.

“I want everyone to know, you don’t have to find out you are dying, to start living.”
Zach Sobiech

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Often I have written about my desire to not just survive, but thrive (Survive-or-Thrive) in this life. Most recently I shared of that feeling of being  Worn, not just a physical fatigue, but exhaustion that goes to the bones, to the soul.

Recently, as I was reading a post from another (Holly Gerth) I found myself reminded of what I already knew … that all that keeps us busy, is not all for us to be busy in doing.

Isaiah 55:2-3 reminds us … reminds me :

“Why spend money on what is not bread,
and your labor on what does not satisfy?
Listen, listen to me,
and eat what is good,
and you will delight in the richest of fare.
Give ear and come to me; 
listen, that you may live.”

God has created each of us with gifts, with talents, with passions … with appetites. There are many ways to utilize what God has given. There are many ways to fill our time, our schedules, our days using them, but not every use of them satisfies. Like cotton candy, caramel apples and kettle corn that are eaten at the fair and fill us to the brim, there are many things in our lives that we participate in that only fill our days, but do not nourish us for living.

What God has created and ordained us for requires a different diet.

Holly Gerth, writing on the blog, incourage.me, gives us a good bit of wisdom in her post, Find-What-Feeds-Your-Heart

photo by Dinner Series

“I walk through the door bone weary, head throbbing, searching for the nearest flat surface so I can sink into silence. I feel depleted, drained, tired in a way that makes my heart echo with emptiness.
Another day I walk through the door worn out but not worn down, ready for a nap but also ready to get up and go for it again, smiling even through the physical fatigue that tugs at every part of my body. My energy tank is empty but my heart is full.
One task depleted me–like a sugar crash after too much junk food.
The other filled me up–like a satisfying meal that makes you lean back in your chair and sigh with new strength.
Here’s the catch: both looked like great opportunities on the outside.
But one was not for me.
And the next time it came around, I turned down another helping. That’s hard for us as women {at least it is for me}. Saying “no” to what looks enticing and sweet even though we know it will ultimately not nourish us can be difficult to do. And yet discovering what truly feeds our hearts is essential.
“My food,” said Jesus, “is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish His work” {John 4:34}.
What God truly has for us to do on this earth will fill us up deep inside. Oh, yes, we will get tired sometimes along the way. We will have struggles and face obstacles. But what He has for us is not meant to leave us continually empty.
Be careful if you’re working hard “for God” and your heart feels hungry all the time.
Stop and ask Him, “Is this really, truly what You have for me? Have I taken in or taken on something You never intended?”
How do we even know what’s God’s will is?”

To continue reading this encouraging post, by Holly Gerth, click on Find-What-Feeds-Your-Heart.

 

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I forgot to prepare a post for today!

I slept in!

This is what can happen on a holiday weekend!

So, although late, I hope you enjoy this video about being a mother. I know, Mother’s Day was last weekend, but this video might just be one of those that you bookmark, and pull out in the dark watches of the night, when your are in the midst of mothering battle, when your last nerve has just been stepped on, when the world is trying to destroy your children. Or, maybe it is a video you can share with a friend who is in need of encouragement.

There

IS

nothing

ordinary

about

mothering …

We will not be broken!

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This long weekend is a time of refreshment, a time of rest, maybe even a time of redemption …

When I first heard the song, Worn, by Tenth Avenue North, I thought the words were echoing my hearts cry in my own ears, because I was … worn.

I needed to hear the story behind it, and you can too … just below (warning, if you are old like me his language might make you giggle … or roll your eyes a time or two 😉 ).

The lyrics are below:

“I’m Tired I’m worn
My heart is heavy
From the work it takes
To keep on breathing
I’ve made mistakes
I’ve let my hope fail
My soul feels crushed
By the weight of this world

And I know that you can give me rest
So I cry out with all that I have left

I know I need to lift my eyes up
But I’m too weak
Life just won’t let up
And I know that you can give me rest
So I cry out with all that I have left

My prayers are wearing thin
Yeah, I’m worn
Even before the day begins
Yeah, I’m worn
I’ve lost my will to fight
I’m worn
So, heaven come and flood my eyes

Let me see redemption win
Let me know the struggle ends
That you can mend a heart
That’s frail and torn
I wanna know a song can rise
From the ashes of a broken life
And all that’s dead inside can be reborn
Cause I’m worn

Yeah I’m worn”

Now check out the video to see if you, too, hear words echoing your hearts cry in your own ears.

“Let me see redemption win
Let me know the struggle ends
That you can mend a heart
That’s frail and torn”

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With less than four weeks until the end of regular classes, followed by two more weeks of exams, and end of year procedures,  school students and staff have summer on the brain.

There is an ebb and flow to school life, as there is in every other area of life, with some years being more successful than others. There are school years that, for staff and students, may be more :

exhilarating … or fatiguing

enhanced by our personal lives … or adversely affected by them

uplifting … or depressing … or worse, apathetic

changing … or static

challenging … or easy

supported … or lonely

With each pro and con comes a beautiful reality … in the field of education each year is a fresh start, a brand new beginning. No matter what kind of year this school year has been (whether staff or student), a brand new next year awaits us all in September.

It reminds me of the Easter-related phrase “it’s Friday, but Sunday’s a coming.” A phrase about the sorrow of Good Friday, the day that the Christ was crucified, died and placed in the tomb. The day of much sorrow and sadness. But within the phrase is the essence of the light at the end of the dark tunnel … Sunday, the day Jesus rose from his death, the day that God hit the re-set button on human history, and hope was restored.

Folks, whether you work in a school, are a student in a school, or a parent walking the school road each day:

it’s May …
you are tired, worn down, calendars are jam-packed, exams loom on the horizon, and then … report cards …

but,

September’s a coming …
you have the hope of starting fresh like a brand new piece of lined loose leaf, in a brand new binder, with a freshly sharpened pencil in hand.

But, we don’t have to wait for September for things to get better.

Now is the time to remind ourselves,

to finish well.

Complete that notebook with the best essay of the year.

Complete those classes with the most enthusiasm of the year.

Complete those report cards with encouraging words.

Maybe even write a note and place it in your kid’s lunch, or volunteer (again) for that last field trip.

Stay Strong … Finish Well!

 I’m not saying that I have this all together, that I have it made. But I am well on my way, reaching out for Christ, who has so wondrously reached out for me. Friends, don’t get me wrong: By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I’ve got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward—to Jesus. I’m off and running, and I’m not turning back.”
Philippians 3:12-14

Press on …

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I sat in the balcony of the sanctuary when I heard the words that brought tears to my eyes …

“God, we ask that You would lead us as we prepare and plan for the worship service this coming weekend …”

On a Wednesday morning, as my student and I were working together, in a church that has opened it’s doors to a work experience placement, I encountered the heart of preparing for worship.

Preparing for worship is often misinterpreted.

It can be misinterpreted as being only about the music.

wrong

It can be misinterpreted as the sermon.

wrong

It can be misinterpreted as the offering.

wrong

It can be misinterpreted as:
the prayers prayed
the communion taken
the announcements made
the people who do the leading
etc.
etc.
etc.

Preparing for worship can be misinterpreted.

To prepare for worship is to prepare the heart …

The heart of those preaching, teaching, leading the service, leading the music, praying, serving communion, taking the offering.

3af1d1e6b7d2936d3f8ab31f3a07580a

It is through prayer that each individual associated with worship is prepared. Heads bowed, knees bowed, heart, mind and will bowed to the One we worship. It is not our worship service, it is His … And He is at the center of it.

It is through prayer that ALL who come to worship are made prepared.

It is not just the pastors (although that is essential), it is not just the music teams (although that is essential), it is not just those preparing and serving communion (although that is essential).

It is through prayer that ALL who come to worship are made prepared.

It is through bowing down that we might be lifted up.

“Come, let us worship and bow down, Let us kneel before the LORD our Maker.”
Psalm 95:6

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