What spills out?

In the quick check out lane at Wal-Mart, the slowest woman on the planet proceeded to count out coupons for the   cashier. Then, as my toddler’s short attention span was wearing thin, she argued with the checker about the expiration date, value and brand names of each and every coupon she presented. As if that wasn’t enough to make me snap, she wrote a check! It’s 2013. Who still carries their checkbook to Wally World?! After standing behind this lady for 20 minutes (no exaggeration,) I was lit. Boiling! And Chuckles was screeching. A good time was had by all!

I have been meditating the last few days on something my pastor says often…people will know the kind of believer you are by what spills out of you when you are bumped. Do you return glare with glare in traffic or do you smile back at the old man who showed the international sign of disdain? Do you speak every negative thought that pops into your head or do you gracefully bow out of conversation when you have nothing constructive to add? Are you passive aggressive or are you actively gentle? I have been meditating on this phrase, “What spills out,” because I admit that what spills out of me isn’t always pretty. I have learned to control my temper and I don’t generally use coarse language, but I do know how to sling some zingers rather innocently from time to time. I am just as guilty of sinning if my “criticisms” and eye rolls are distributed righteously in my own eyes as  I would be of they were unsolicited defamation! 

I won’t lie…it hurts. It hurts to hear people say destructive things about or to me. It hurts to feel like the customer service lady was rude to me. It hurts to be late to something (usually CHURCH) because my precious kiddo is being difficult. It hurts to not get my way. It hurts to feel judged or slighted in any way. It especially hurts to experience those things and go against every human fiber in my body to hold my tongue and act gracefully. Don’t lose my cool. Don’t huff. Don’t pout, get red-faced, be sarcastic or snarky. Just don’t.
But DO! God calls us to DO something when faced with adversity, no matter how big or small the situation. As people of faith, 1 Peter 3:8-16 calls us to repay evil with kindness, insults with blessings. This is how others will know us. And for this, Glory will be The Lord’s! Honestly, my favorite part of this selection is verse 16…But do this in a gentle and respectful way. Keep your conscience clear. Then if people speak against you, they will be ashamed when they see what a good life you live because you belong to Christ. (1 Peter 3:16 NLT) My sinful nature likes the idea of someone being ashamed after they annoy, irritate or harm me! But, of course, that’s not the point. The point is to highlight how I need to act…or rather, REACT.
 It’s so hard for me to look in the mirror some days after I have been “bumped” over and over again and truly evaluate how I did in the sight of my Savior. Did I make Him proud. Did I bring Him glory? Did people know I was His? Do I hope they DIDN’T because of the way I acted?
Most days, my worldly motivation to be gentle and kind is my beautiful daughter. I want more than anything else in the world for her to grow up with a graceful spirit for Christ. She will first learn this as a behavior before it grows into a heart issue. For now, she mostly watches me to model this behavior. No pressure! 
So, really it boils down to this…I love my Lord and I love my daughter. I want my Lord to be proud of me and I want my daughter to learn well from me. Despite my inclinations to human fault, I CAN do the unexpected and patiently wait for the frustrating Wal-Mart patron to complete her purchase and smile at her as she glowers at my squirmy child. I can take the higher road and make the checker’s day by asking how she is doing after such an ordeal. I can be jovial to the three people waiting and whining behind me in line. I can do what Christ requires of me as a 1 Peter 3 lady and be graceful in this situation. Eternally, I will be rewarded.
Now, did I? That’s between the kid and me. Lets just say every moment is a teaching moment…even for this mama!

Tale as old as time…

We survived! HFoe, Chuckles, the pups and I are on a family road trip and getting to our destination is always both an adventure and a terrifying prospect. Sixteen hours of harrowing automobile travel with a tiny toddler who is still backward-facing and DESPISING it is not my idea of a leisurely beginning to vacation. However, this trip I learned a few things, about my kid, about the journey and about myself.

First, old school headrest DVD players are the best things ever!! Especially, when they are lovingly bestowed on you by a sweet, benevolent friend who has been in your toddler-sticky shoes before! C had more hours of Disney entertainment over the last two days than she has accumulated in her entire 18 months! She watched (and I listened to) Beauty and the Beast twice, Pocahontas twice, lion King once, and Wall-e three times! She doesn’t know it yet, but someday she will be quite impressed by the fact that her super awesome mom knows ALL the words to ALL the Disney movies EVER made. No, seriously. Something tells me my sweet girl won’t mind as she will be singing right along with me. It made my heart leap with pride to look in the rear view mirror to see Mis Sassy Pants giggling and dancing with her Teddy to “I just Can’t Wait To Be King!”

All this was great encouragement after the moments of shear agony as C screamed her pterodactyl screech for miles on end in protest of being strapped down for the 5th, 8th, 11th and 16th hours! I just had to remind myself that my rear end had also fallen asleep, but at least I could shift my posture in the absence of the five point harness with which she was having to deal. I learned quickly that I have Gumby-like flexibility as I managed to dole out cheddar bunny crackers backward without dropping a single one! I also figured out that, when pressed, my little diva could, in fact, entertain herself for an extended period of time with a single toy. There was no other choice at certain long stretches of rural highway. She will be tested on this skill when we return home at the first itch of Christmas crafting I feel!

As for HFoe, he was traveling behind us most of the way in his truck. Because we are going to Colorado for hunting season and because my Hunter-Fisher-Outdoorsman Extraordinaire is amped to put some meat in our freezer from the high country, we needed both vehicles to avoid stranding C and me at the cabin all week. It’s such a luxury!

Also in his quiet 4×4 rode the pup pups, the hunting gear and much of the trip’s food supply…including C’s squeezy pouches. This proved almost tragic when HFoe didn’t see my Chevy turn into the Shell station for a rest stop and ended up 20 miles in front of us. No pouches equaled a very unhappy C. This is where I learned something substantial about myself. Despite how self-sufficient or perfectly contained I may present myself to my husband, I need him. I need him to hold the kid while I take an uninterrupted potty break. I need him to look menacing to gas station vagrants suspiciously eyeing the loaded down mom-mobile. I need his reassuring arms to embrace me and remind me that she cannot possibly scream forever. I need him. I have a hard time NEEDING anyone. I am proud. Sinfully so. And when this NEED becomes apparent, my pride and FEAR rear their ugly faces.

As obvious as it may be to some, I am a bit humbled to say that what I learned about the journey, today, is that it is much better with my lover and help-mate beside me, in front of me, behind me…wherever. Just close. And that many times in the journey of our life together when I am feeling abandoned or neglected, it’s because I have let my own pride prevent me from telling the truth. I need you, babe. And he needs me, too.

After all 16 hours had passed under our tire tred, we arrived at one of my favorite places on the planet. I have hundreds of hours of memories about building tree forts and hand-feeding chipmunks here. I hope someday Chuckles will look back at this place with such fondness. From her response as we exited the car at grandma’s cabin, I don’t think that’s such a long shot. She squealed with delight, sounding less like a pterodactyl than a jovial little girl now. And now my travel weary body can get a good rest in anticipation for the adventure in front of us…this part of the trip will be sans Disney, though. At least for a few days!

To (future) teenage boys re: our Treasure

I read this blog post today from a mom to her son’s female facebook friends. I am sure you have too, since it has popped up about 25 times in my news feed over the last 12 hours. If you haven’t, you can read it here. It’s good…really good. It got me thinking about what I would write to my daughter’s male counterparts in say, 14 years or so, given that facebook is still relevant of course!

Dear boy,

I think you should know first and foremost that we believe in this house that our daughter is a treasure. She is being raised to respect herself and others and a large part of our ability to encourage this is that we know her friends. We know you, whether you know us or not. We ask questions about you at the dinner table. We pray for you and we cheer your successes, all because you are important to our daughter, our treasure.

Of course you should also know that we are keeping an eye on you too. You should know that the things you post online are not only being viewed by my daughter, but also by her once-cool mom. That string of curse words you just used to describe your relationship with your parents makes me sad, first, but mostly it throws me into protective mode for my treasure. Censorship may not be popular, but when it comes to this family’s reading material, it is commonplace. So, you, my friend, are out of the line up. And you, shirtless McGee…get dressed. I expect my daughter to be fully clothed in any photo she chooses to share with the world wide web. That junk lives FOREVER! I understand that it is socially acceptable for males to be shirtless in the pool, mowing the lawn and hanging at the beach. However, what message are you trying to send by posting a photo of your flexed, awkwardly posed teenage pecs? Are you trying to look sexy for my daughter? Are you trying to look tough for the other boys? Neither of those reasons are passable in this house, for our treasure. You’re cut, too, bud, mostly because if you can’t respect yourself enough to accurately represent who you ARE (not what you look like half-clothed) then how do I know you can be trusted to respect this girl who is my world? And finally, if you think that it is cool to brag about your exploits with other girls, evading authority, skipping class, bullying others, being disrespectful to your parents or teachers, hurting animals or any of the other myriad of things a teenage boy MIGHT think is cool…no chance. Lose her number because you have already been blocked.

All of this makes me a protective parent, I am fully aware, but I don’t believe it makes me OVER-protective. She is mine and her father’s treasure, after all, and if you had a treasure worth more than all the riches in the world, would you not protect it to the best of your ability? Before you walk away thinking that we would like to keep her locked in a tower, you should know this. My greatest aspiration for my beautiful daughter is that she finds a beautiful man to treasure her beautiful heart as much as her papa and I do. So, if you display the traits of a worthy man, a gentleman, a noble man…you may most definitely stick around. Come to dinner sometime and hear those prayers we pray. Join in! Show us what makes you special to our girl. Open the door for her. Help with the dishes. Speak kindly of your parents. And, of course, build your online persona to reflect your true heart. Don’t be lured in to the thinking that “bad is cool.” Any girl worth getting, a girl like our girl, will want a guy worth getting, a guy like you. Don’t be discouraged by mistakes. We all make them. But, do correct them. Go forward from today with the idea that you are enough, young sir. You don’t need to prove yourself to your buddies or your parents or even us, the parents of this awesome girl. The only opinion that really matters is the Lord Almighty’s and if you are living with Him in your sights…well, we likely won’t have to block you number.