The Zipper

How can I be certain genuine sensitivity is zipped into the teeth of my self-conscious mind’s motives? I don’t want my insecurities to jam my kids’ jackets. But that’s exactly what happens when I fail to spin inward. Selfish instincts fuel trauma. image

Before I speak my mind in witness to my children, I SIFT, hoping to model the selfless love Christ extends to me.

Selfish

“Concerned primarily with one’s own interests, benefits, welfare, etc, regardless of others.” Dictionary.com

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Piece by piece, the remnants of pushing my babies on their little blue swing were hauled away. With every disassembled section, hours of images blurred through my tears. The animal sound quizzes, songs about ABC’s, and tickling their knees wavered through my mind.

Human default lends the out-flow of our actions to be inwardly influenced. Watching my children grow, I worry I’ve failed them, often becoming hyper-focused on the mistakes I’ve made.

My kids sift through their mistakes to the tune of their parent’s habits. Our oldest daughter is always right and never admits fault, and the youngest thinks it’s always her fault because she’s a terrible person. #parentfail

“We have different gifts according to the grace given us.”-Romans 12:6a

Gifts can be sifted to unearth seeds of growth and potential. It’s selfish to focus on every mistake when so much can be learned from each character trait. Instead of grabbing for the seam ripper, reach for each unique thread of joy sewn into you. Accepting the full spectrum God’s granted us is a healthy vision of what’s actually happening.

The daughter that always feels at fault is always trying to improve and be better, just like her momma. The daughter that stubbornly doesn’t let drama deter her is calm in the midst of chaos like her dad. In Christ, we’re aligned with whom He knows we already are.

Instinct

“An inborn pattern of activity or tendency to action common to a given biological species.” -Dictionary.com

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I wondered what was going through my Kindergartner’s mind as she pressed her head against the window and watched a piece of her childhood leave the lawn.

“YES!!!!!!!” she shrieked with glee, “IT’S TRAMPOLINE TIME!!!!!”

“Lauren, that’s an awful thing to say,” I snapped, “aren’t you sad to see it go?”

I should have applauded her positive turn of the page, but I let my failed wish to share a few tears with her negate that she reacted wrong. It’s hard to avoid self-critical cycles listening to my echo nag.

When the instinctive urge to be overly critical creeps up, I’m often symptomatically ready to snap. At the end of the day at the end of the week, I am emotionally at the end of my rope. A deep breath can place the urge lash out on the back burner. No matter how I yearn for the scene play, unexpected blessing is always laced within.

Trying times beg for the justice of Jesus, and the guidance of God’s great grace. The Holy Spirit is able to redirect our instincts to Christ before we rearrange our kid’s self-esteem. It’s hard to fight the parental instinct to harp, but God seeks to bless brave steps. (John 14: 15-17)

Fuel

“Something that gives nourishment…sustains or encourages; stimulant.” -Dictionary.com

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Sunday was trampoline assembly day, and my girls came bounding out in their pajamas to jump. I trekked back inside to the sound of gleeful cackles as my husband took the big empty box to the curb. Fear and worry pushed the nostalgic lump out of my throat. And just like that, they grew up a little more.

I don’t have a natural urge to let my kids go and grow. Though my first instinct is always to grasp firm, Christ reminds me He’s already holding on. The Spirit He left advocates peace to fight the fear that our flesh fuels. So, I can fill up my tank with thankfulness and trust, and let the joy of Jesus reign over the “letting go’s” of my life.

“If a man’s gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. Romans 12:6b

This verse is a picture of playing in the pocket. The gifts God gave us individually launch us into the people …and the parents …we’re meant to be. Kids need to understand how to react to difficulty by tapping into their strengths rather than wallowing in a weak spot. One of my favorite pastors recently preached on efforts to live out just one verse of the Bible instead of trying to learn the whole thing. I choose to let 1 Thes. 5:16, and who I am, fuel my life with joy.

“Be joyful always.” 1 Thes. 5:16

Trauma

“A body wound or shock produced by sudden physical injury …an experience that produces psychological injury or pain.” -Dictionary.com

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…and then one of them flew right back out.

My Kindergartner landed smack on her back. Shrieking and covered in mulch, the scene of checking symptoms engulfed the kitchen.

“How could we have let this happen?” I said to my husband.

My natural inclination to roll over every insecure thought causes me to misconstrue, misinterpret …and just plain miss stuff.

LIKE ZIPPING UP THE SAFETY ZIPPER!!!  

I guarantee I was applauding myself for pressing my husband to get the thing built before sundown …or mulling over the weekend’s lot of conversations with friends to check for anything stupid I should be embarrassed about. Of all the warnings I give my children to heed, the most obvious preventions leak right out of my own insecurities.

The devil tries to traumatize us so that we jump around in doubt rather than with a clear conscious to contribute to the world around us. I am equipped to encourage my kids, even after they’ve flown out of the trampoline on my watch, because of the traumatic scars Jesus survived. We can fuel the fire of our selfish instincts, or  fan Christ’s flame of hope in our hearts. The capability is there. The choice is ours.

Sift

“Examine (something) thoroughly so as to isolate that which is most important or useful.” -Google

imageMy kids don’t always witness the right reactions. I’m not always privy to patience. But, His grace renders this world’s trauma temporary. Let’s attempt to sift out all thoughts that don’t align with His truth.

“So I strive always to keep my conscience clear before God and many.” Acts 24:16

Zip it up before you jump around.

Happy Jumping!

Megs

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The Laps

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The shadow of my stride around God’s promise illuminates motherly purpose to my heart.

I revisited The Other Side, today, as part of a new blog tradition to make a “Throwback Thursday” post part of my routine.  As I scrolled through the text, my jaw dropped at how much it mirrored my notes for today’s #livefree Thursday, “I’m marked.”

“Maybe my daughters will learn to love distance running and it’s masochistic ways, too. If not in running than in something that they question why they love, until they are out there in it. I’m trying to instill an experience in them that will help shape their determination, by simply showing them who I am. I might not have it all figured out yet, but maybe that’s a good thing to accept early on in parenting.

Practice isn’t perfect, but it can make it.” -The Other Side

When the satellite TV becomes digitally distorted for a moment, I panic over what might happen if it doesn’t straighten itself out…what if I miss a play of the Browns game that could become the only highlight of our entire season?!?!?!  When my motherly satellite dish gets bogged down by heavy rains of “I don’t know what to do here…,” I tend to wig completely out in a panicked search of plausible solutions.

I do not know how to keep my baby daughter from feeling defeated over getting placed on a bad behavioral chart color at school.  How can I convince her that she is truly going to be OK if she will not listen to any reasonable word I have to say?  What kind of crazy state comes over my baby when she cries in fear before I even know what I should be mad about?

“Lo Lo,” I assured, “I promise I will not be mad at you, baby…just tell me imagewhat happened.” (Famous last words, mom.)

“It will only make it worse if I tell you.”

Make what worse?  What did I miss?

I could tell the dread of having to run laps around the property (punishment for breaking four very broad house rules that can be applied to almost any circumstance) was already starting to cause a “crank” in her side. But there was nothing to be punished for yet…

Oh.

And then the self torture began as my mind launched into the outer realms of space where the occasions in which I totally lost my cool hang out…and then I started, once again, to doubt my parenting abilities.  I started to feel all kinds of crazy …and defeated …and like I am going to screw these kids up for eternity.

“I’m trying to instill an experience in them that will help shape their determination, by simply showing them who I am.” -The Other Side

God wants that for us.  He wants to help shape our determination by showing us who He is.

“I AM, “he told Moses in Exodus 3:14, “I AM WHO I AM.”

imageHe is all that we will ever need, because He has planned out every minute of our lives.  God layered each life with purpose so profound that He states the only provision required is His plan, for the deployment of which He sent His Son…and His Spirit.

“And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation.  Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession- to the praise of his glory.” -Ephesians 1:13-14

Mothers are not made mothers by accident.  God meant to give me these children.  It was no mistake.  God’s plan is perfect and His timing is perfect, but my understanding of His perfect will is anything but.

If I can learn to relax in my purpose and create habits of seeking out His Word and giving what I have to Him each day, then my daughters will be well-equipped to apply the same principles in their own lives.  I have no doubt it will be hard to watch them stretch out to grasp Him in their own time. But by prayer and discipline in my own life and walk with Christ, I can do my human best to lead them to the path of righteousness.

In Paul’s letter to Timothy, he reminds his young padawan in the faith of the example he gleaned from his mother and grandmother.  Two generations of faithful servants led Timothy’s feet to the start of his own path to answer God’s call on his life.

“I am calling up memories of your sincere and unqualified faith, a faith that first lived permanently in the heart of your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am fully persuaded, dwells in you also.”  -2Timothy1:5

Isn’t that marvelous?  Paul didn’t say Timothy’s mother and grandmother were perfect.  They were marked.

I am marked.

Every night, as I scroll through my camera roll in the quiet of a imagepost-bedtime house, I am reminded of how blessed I am by the simple smiles of the day.  A midst the selfies, photo bombs, and “send this one to daddy” poses, it’s there.  That look of love.  They were looking at me, today… And we were all smiling.

What if we captured one of those moments and brought it, and Ephesians 1:13-14, with us to our time  with God the very next day?  What a powerful reminder of God’s mark of “mom-hood,” and positive way to launch the day.

The next time you’re struggling in a panic for “what to do,” remind yourself to be yourself.

It’s already in you.

If you need to take a lap around God’s mark, send your kids out to run one! “Practice isn’t perfect, but it can make it.

Happy #Livefree Thursday!

Megs

The Book of Happy Faces

To combat the darkness ever permeate in the atmosphere, I choose to unearth the joy of Jesus by following the happy faces.  Facebook…Twitter-verse…Instagram…Pinterest…my news feeds looks like a Christian motivational speaker threw up all over them and then added glitter.  Facebook can be a platform for the positive and encouraging, or it can be a festering blister of negativity that haunts my bright little screen.

“For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.” Matthew 12:34

It’s not reality, and there’s only 1,440 minutes in my day. The excessive amount of ranting that opportunely may drench my day cannot always be shut off. But in the realms of social media I can unfollow negative sloth, never to be bothered by it again. I even have the power to block it forever, if I deem it too invasive to my joy.  That’s brill. If only that sentiment could be applied to incoming text messages…

 A little bleep landed in my new text alerts one midnight… a photo from my oldest daughter a midst the first Bucher Sister Sleepover. I had been excitedly talking with a friend…down the stairs…in the same house…and missed her first couple of messages. (Side note, I think she’s taken note not to ninja-stealth-scare me anymore by creeping down the stairs and sneaking up behind my chair…good for the old ticker…)

I hastened up the stairs to confiscate her phone and tuck her in, scrolling through her sent messages as I slowly creaked her door shut.

I’m no better than my daughter at waiting for a reply when it’s something I need to know straight away.  And when I post a blog and no one comments, my heart does sink a pinch.  But on the flip side, the concern of inconsequential “dings” and missed ring-tones bead up and trickle to the floor.

“Beep. Boop. Bop,” my daughter’s “phone” busted into the afternoon stillness.

“Beep. Boop. Bop.”

The buzzing robot alert stirred my eyes over to the loft desk.  My daughter bypassed the “I just received a message and must answer right now” circuit board, and continued Barbie’s latest saga to save all of humanity by pairing up with Flynn Ryder… “Barbie’s” crush.

“Beep. Bop. Boop.”

My curiosity did not meander down the stairs alongside the cat.

“Brianne, aren’t you going to see who’s sending you messages?” I prodded… “Someone sent a picture…”

“No.” She quipped, aggravated to be interrupted mid- wedding in the dream house.  Far cry from the urgent response she needed on sleepover night.

“What’s that like?” I seethed, as I searched the dusty corridors of my brain for a pre-technologically controlled remnant.  I confess, I wait for the dings after a blog post like my cat waits for food when her bowl is only half full.  The whiplash of feedback on social media flaunts my convictions and exposes my addiction to encouragement.

It’s a ridiculous plight to develop discipline over, I realize. When to put the “ding” down and look up and out at the world happening in my family room…lest I forfeit my witness of  Barbie and Flynn’s vows.  I mean, Barbie may never marry again, and I will plausibly regret forevermore not showing up in any of the wedding photos.  Blast!

That December afternoon, I caught my five year old’s accused eye roll of amateur status… as I texted and checked one-handed whilst my play-doh cupcake turned into a hot mess. My family needed me to pay attention, not just be present. Inspired, I vowed not to let the fourteen days of Christmas break my daughters and I counted down for in angst unfold with me holed up in “busyness” at my desk, while the sounds of joy filtered up the stairs and underneath the crack of my closed door.

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28

Introducing my daughter to texting and face-time is only the beginning …social media is right around the corner. I learn how to process faceless communication right alongside her, and have purposely built up a wall of “Jesus-joy” to guard my heart…and hers, until she’s old enough to take the wheel.  I don’t walk the pier everyday with intentions of getting pooped on by a bird …but it’s possible. (Especially lately… What is it, bird-ageddon over here?!) I’m not focused on the birds, I’m focused on the view. I don’t hear their crazed cackling in my ears, because I have different song streaming through my headphones. I choose my focus.

I don’t know what hard-knock is about to sound at my door.  Ailments are imageeverywhere.  But God doesn’t trip me up with obstacles to make me grumble through my day and life.  He’s the God of humorous silver linings.  The One who allows me to walk through an entire cloud of seagulls without getting pooped on; but then get blasted by the only one around in a ten mile radius.

He’s given us His only Son so that we can choose to unfollow the things that make us miserable.  He did not give us life to make us suffer.  He gave us life for joy!  Fight the good fight and roll with the punches…knowing each blow does have an eternal purpose… and your life has a specific one.

Stay encouraged.  Be happy.  “Follow” the light…Christ.

“Be joyful always.” 1Thes5:16

Happy Sharing,

Megs