Saturday, January 16, 2016

Seeing Clearly

I ruined my vision in the 7th grade. Because my head was lazy, I began resting it on the back of my hand, fingers sprawled in a tripod position in order to complete schoolwork from a 4-inch distance from my paper. At first notice my teachers questioned my vision and my desire to be so close to the paper, but I assured them that it was just comfortable for me and that my vision was perfect.

Fast forward a few years and because my eyes have gotten used to seeing clearly at five inches in distance, I cannot see far away very clearly. Although my far vision is lacking in all areas, my close up vision remains nearly perfect. I can read 1-point font with accuracy and will probably never need reading glasses.

By the time I reached college, I needed glasses in order to correct my far vision and after wearing them for several months, I opted for contact lenses. When contact lenses are clean and doing their job correctly, they are wonderful, providing the clear vision that I need for seeing anything farther than 5 feet away. When they aren’t performing correctly contact lenses can be irritating. At times they immolate dry, crispy, corn flakes, and at other times the slightest fleck, can feel as if a hunk of bark were lodged in my eyeball. If I try and move them with my finger when they veer off course, the smudge left behind from whatever was on my fingertip often results in my vision shifting from 20/20 to cloudy.

When I can clearly see what is ahead of me, I have confidence. When I cannot see what is in front of me, I am filled with fear, anxiety, uncertainty, and frustration.

Sometimes my experience with God is like my experience with my degree of eyesight clarity. I cannot always see clearly what God is doing in my life. But when I put on the “contact lens” of faith, I can see more clearly what God is doing. There have been times when I have questioned God’s direction, but, in the end, I have been able to witness His divine path with clarity. I just have to keep my “contact” on and clear. Knowing that God always knows what is ahead and that He is the tour guide of my life, gives me confidence.

Although my eyesight fails me my Father never fails to lead me. And although I cannot see far enough ahead to what is coming, He always sees what’s ahead and takes me along the perfect path. His vision is perfect, and better than 20/20.





Saturday, December 19, 2015

Parents Only | Dinner |


I love dinner. I snack throughout the day so that I can take full advantage of dinner. I look forward to dinnertime with family, and eating a full portion. While I prefer eating at a time which reflects that of an 85 year old woman who sits down with her t.v. tray and dinner fare at 4:30 PM, my husband prefers the schedule of a college age male who eats dinner at 8 PM “Grab a snack,” he instructs as I impatiently wait to leave the house for our 8 PM reservations. Since the insides of my stomach start eating each other with no other viable options at 6 PM, the 8:00 hour seems light years away. He is in no hurry. “Aren’t you hungry?” I question. “I will be at eight.” He replies, void of a growling stomach. This is one important nuance that had failed to come up during premarital counseling.

Our kids prefer dinner at 3:30 PM. I suspect that their insatiable, after school appetite can only be linked to their disposing most of the ingredients lodged in their brown lunch sacks instead of indulging in its contents. However, they are not satisfied with a snack to curb their appetites. They want enough food to fill them up and banish any and all hunger pangs. “You don’t need to fill up,” I tell them. But, they inevitably reply, “But we’re still hungry.”

Although our family has never had to experience true huger as the world defines it, we do go through moments of feeling hungry and longing for something to fill our stomachs. In those moments our moods shift, irritable attitudes emerge, energy levels plummet, and impatience appears. I have been told that I am the CEO of appetite irritability. However, this has not been fully proven.

The same is true for me when I find other things to take the place of my time with God. While deciding on a particular time to spend reading the Bible, studying devotionals, and journaling varies with preference, I prefer mornings.

In the same way that hunger interferes with my ability to function normally, or so I’ve been told, the absence of time with God has the same affect on my attitude and well being. I find myself losing patience with homework mistakes, smashed crackers on the counter, and the bathroom mess from three untidy boys.

Psalm 107:8-9 says, “Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for mankind, for he satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things.” Time with God is the ultimate spiritual hunger eliminator. His inspiration and assistance through devotionals and scripture, fills us in ways that food never will. He fills our spiritual emptiness and gratifies our soul, and fills us with joy. When we follow Him and commit to time with Him, we are satisfied.

After 24 years of marriage, my husband and I have have decided on a compromise to our dinner hour dilemma. I will eat a snack at 4 PM, and dinner will be served at 7 PM. As for the children, they will have a hearty snack and then I will block all entrances to cupboards and the refrigerator. If they are still hungry, I will brew them a fresh cup of black coffee. I read somewhere that coffee curbs your appetite. Consider it done.




Friday, December 11, 2015

Reading

As a former educator for nearly 20 years I am embarrassed to admit that I recently searched the Internet for “Books for kids who hate to read.” After all, don’t I know how to embed children with an unquenchable appetite for books? Evidently, I do not.

What I thought was being done in secret, warranted a giggle from my eighth grader for whom I began the search. As he looked over my shoulder he said, “That’s funny mom, kids who hate to read.” Exchanging words in order to defend my search wasn’t necessary. He knew that I was making my best effort to help him to engage in book reading without much struggle. “If the story is interesting, you’ll want to continue reading; so let’s find something interesting.”

I was thrilled with the amount of choices which popped up and was not surprised at the titles such as “Captain Underpants,” and “Diary of a Wimpy Kid,” both of which were too juvenile for an 8th grader.  Since his interest was piqued, he slid next to me on the chair and began looking at the different titles recommended for someone his age who struggles with reading. “That one looks boring,” “That’s for girls,” “Too many pages,” and “That sounds dumb,” were among his most common comments, which I fully expected. No one who finds reading difficult, has trouble remembering what he reads, and struggles with word deciphering, explodes with joy over new book choices.

Regardless of the compelling synopsis of the various books we perused, it’s the picture on the cover and low page count that prompts his choosing. If a book report could be done using the articles found in Sports Illustrated for Kids magazine, book selecting would disappear until high school.

I’m grateful that character building falls on the shoulders of the parent and is independent of hating to read. The same cannot be said for Bible reading, yet people continue to make excuses for letting their Bible remain closed and attracting dust on the shelf. “It’s too wordy” “Too many rules and expectations,” “Hard to understand” or “It’s not for me,” are just a few of the excuses people use for not spending time communicating with their heavenly Father. God’s Word, the Bible, is a living, breathing guidebook for navigating life, inspired by God, the creator of the universe. Not reading God’s Word has consequences I am not willing to experience and reading it has life changing consequences I prefer to embrace.

Finally my son decided on a book that was 312 pages, has large print, made the list of books for haters, and has an appealing cover. Our hopes are high. Comprehension is going to be another hurdle over which to leap, and for that reason, if I need to dress up in the characters while he reads the story aloud, we will visit that option. I have no shame and conveniently have a large bin in the garage labeled “costumes.”





Saturday, December 5, 2015

Broken Cookies

I have an unhealthy attraction to cookies. When I am working out at the gym, I think about cookies. While helping the kids with homework, I think about cookies.  I pray about cookies and thank God for their existence. When other desserts vie for my attention, I cannot help but think about cookies.

Not just any cookies will satisfy my lust. I prefer large peanut butter cookies nestled with peanut butter cups and peanuts. My other favorite is chocolate chip with walnuts, the big kind, that costs as much as a small, imported, puppy. My favorite comes from a restaurant near my house named Pacific Whey. After 6:00 p.m. all cookies are half price, but I run the risk of there being no chocolate chip with walnuts cookies left. I could settle for the chocolate chip espresso cookie or chocolate brownie but only when required, and even then, I would have to return the following day and pay full price for my true love.

My last cookie purchase took me to new levels of excitement. Since I’m a huge fan of getting things for free, I was delighted when I dipped my hand into the bag of cookies I purchased and discovered three cookies instead of the two I purchased. When I mentioned the mistake to the cashier she said, “Oh, the last cookie was broken so I gave it to you since we throw those away. People don’t buy the broken ones.”

Although I am not as attracted to broken cookies, as I am to perfectly rounded, robust, fully formed, cookies, I was thankful to cashier Veronica.

While sipping hot coffee and savoring my stack of cookies, I began to ponder the metaphor surrounding unwanted, broken cookies. While humanity isn’t naturally attracted human “broken cookies” Jesus embraced them. The lepers who were subjected to a section of town, disgraced for their uncleanliness were loved and fully accepted by Jesus. He stopped what He was doing to heal a lame man dropped from a rooftop, laid before His feet. A prostitute He met at a well received a life changing message from Jesus when He willingly approached her.  A blind man, a pool littered with mangled and dysfunctional bodies waiting for a human touch these people were a magnet for Jesus. Jesus not only loved “broken cookies” He looked for them, and still does.

Not one of us is perfect. We are all broken cookies shaped by our upbringing, the decisions we make, unwarranted opinions of others, and our past, but we are in no way identified by them, for we are loved fully and unconditionally by our Jesus. He purchased us, broken and unwanted, with His sacrifice at the Cross. Jesus is attracted to “broken cookies.”

 Every now again I fantasize about ice cream and was once caught cheating with chocolate chip ice cream, a distant cousin to the cookie. Forgiveness was given but trust is still an issue we are working out together, cookie and me. I haven’t let cookie know, but a sassy little croissant, flakey on the outside and stuffed with vanilla cream and sliced strawberries has been texting me. The temptation is real.









Saturday, November 21, 2015

Dog Lover

Dog Lover wasn’t her real name but the name that she preferred. Her real name was Shauna. She was interested in the brood of boys I brought with me to the frozen yogurt shop and questioned my daughter and me about them as we sat indoor among the quiet and warmth. Although only 3 of the boys belonged to me, I had sent all of them outdoors to be loud and annoying. The boys belonged outdoors, no matter the weather, since spilling, shouting, and shoving, was inevitable.
Shauna spent the next few minutes asking socially awkward questions about my age, my dogs, and my boys, and telling short stories about her family and the dogs that they owned. Her voice was not particularly quiet, but her curiosity at a peak.
She steadied herself on a flowered cane and appeared to be going someplace. “Where are you going next?” I questioned. “Home,” she replied.  She then told us about her bus ride,  where she lived, and how long it took her to arrive home after the bus stopped several times along the route. As I thought about the distance to her home, a car drive was a short one and paled in comparison to the bus ride. Before I could stop myself, and consider my companions and the number of seats in my car, I blurted out, “I can give you a ride home.” Delighted at the idea, she clapped her hands and joined us outside to gather up the boys let them know that we would be taking Shauna home. Acts of goodwill were not their primary language, so their shocked faces were quickly ignored as I began walking to the car summonsing them to follow.
Shauna and I talked the entire ride about her home about her impeccable skills for knowing every breed of dog, even mixed breeds, and her neighbors. The passengers sat silently, still shocked that we were driving a stranger, who lived in the opposite direction of our home, to her house.
The minute we arrived at Sauna’s home and she exited the car, thanking me and asking me to say hello to my dogs, my oldest son asked, “Why did you do that?” To which I replied, “God told me to.” There was no need for any more explanation, and I knew that what those kids witnessed would leave an impression. They needed desperately to see someone not physically or mentally healthy, exude joy in the midst of her circumstances. They needed to see how to show God’s love to a stranger. They needed to know that when God asks you to do something, even if it makes you uncomfortable, you need to obey. They needed to know that serving God means loving people.
While I have never taken my family to a soup kitchen in order to feed the homeless, driven out of the country to build houses for the less fortunate, or delivered sandwiches to people living on the streets, I do my best to be an example of someone who serves God by loving people. I don’t always get it right, but when I do, I receive more of a blessing than I ever could imagine. When God places people in my path to serve and love, I know that He is giving me a gift of being His hands and feet, and that is a privilege.
Give your kids the gift of watching you serve Him by loving others, and let it begin right inside your home.