1 2 3 .date-outer{ margin-bottom: -50px; } -->

Thursday, October 20, 2016

I Miss My Mother

If you stay open and allow yourself to experience everything you feel you just may realize your emotional capacity. The reality is I miss my mother. We weren't always close in that classic mother-daughter sense or the way I am with my daughters because we came at this thing called life differently. From what she shared of her upbringing with me over time it wasn't exactly idyllic, and there were parts that were hard. Hard for me to hear but also hard for her to live through. It gave me a new appreciation for my mother.

When I got married and eventually became a mother I realized that I am who I am because of my mother. I was strict - because of my mother. I was frank/blunt - because of my mother. I was exacting - because of my mother. I liked all of those things. I didn't like that I was a yeller - because of my mother. The yelling forced me to become introspective and separate the good from the bad; because overall my mother was a good mother.

And then when I was tired as a mother and only because I was a mother, I realized my mother must have been tired also, often. But though tired, she never lost that distinctive laugh and more importantly her Christian beliefs never wavered. There was a verse for every situation we were going through. Sometimes it was tiring, but when a person has that faith, even as a child you can't help but notice. And that was primarily what was imprinted on me - no matter how flawed you are as a human being with faith in a Person bigger than you - you can navigate life, you can figure it out, you can be confident. Out of all of this, she became an encourager - she was my first encourager.

When I won the first Spelling Bee in the Bahamas, she was so proud of me and the trophy is still in her house to this day. When I started running track and I was finally able to go to track meets she was so proud. In my junior year, my times were horrible and I was despondent. I'm not sure why this happened, but she told me not to quit and in my senior year I performed so well, I got one the most Improved Athlete awards. She was there at that dinner and she was happy for me. In her mind, I was an Olympian. She told me I was smart and I could do anything I put my mind to and she meant it. Because she meant it, I believed it. This is what allows me to tackle anything - my mother thought I could do it, and therefore I could.

Even when I moved to California and I found myself signed up for a half marathon and had to fundraise. I was feeling some sort of way about fundraising; it felt like begging. She said, "Don't be afraid to ask, you have to ask. There's nothing wrong with asking." How did she know that? What did she know about fundraising? So I continued to ask and came pretty close to my goal.

Eventually later in life, I could do for her what she did for me. I could encourage her, and listen to her and tell her I love her. She told me that she really appreciated me calling her just to talk to her about her and ask her how she was doing. She told me that I should keep doing that.

Mummy had 80 years with us, so we had her for a long time and for that I'm grateful. Even if you're estranged from your parents, recognize that without them there would be no you. Try to extend grace and mercy toward them as an adult so that you can have a degree of a relationship with them, because whatever you have is better than nothing and when they're gone the opportunity for a relationship is over.

Her children stand and bless her. Proverbs 31:28 [NLT]

I'm not embellishing my mother's traits; it was a testament to her life that there were over 300 people in attendance at her funeral. She is sorely missed.

Enjoy your parents while you have them.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Grace and Mercy

Have you ever heard the expression - "The first time someone shows you who they are, believe them" that's attributed to Maya Angelou? I have great respect for Maya Angelou but I've often wondered about the context of this expression.

This expression is multi-faceted in that everyone that you meet won't be a part of your life - so the first time you show me who you are, you show me who you are. I may like it or hate it - but it is who you are. If we never have further interactions, good or bad it's fine. If we have additional interactions, depending on what I see, I must rely on God's grace and mercy so that our interactions aren't negative. Interactions may eventually lead to a relationship; this has more of a chance of happening if I view you in a positive light. If we're a family I may not have a choice and may have to deal with you regardless.

In order to know what you're seeing you have to know who you are - some of us only see the good and some only see the bad and then some of us are realistic. Particularly in relationships, people may become jaded and not see a person for who they are even though their actions indicate otherwise.

People change; people change drastically for better or worse; people change incrementally or have total character changes; people change all the time. The person I was 10 years ago is not the person I am today and I would hate for someone to treat me today the way I was yesterday. It's almost like a parent choosing to treat a child like he is 10 years old even though he's 30.

Many people throw this phrase out as a way to be unforgiving or to place themselves on a pedestal.

I guess the real question is once you believe them, what do you do with this belief? 

I believe in grace and mercy; I believe in bestowing it to others because I've been a recipient of it.
Grace is defined as divine love and protection bestowed freely on people; the state of being protected or sanctified by the favor of God; an excellence or power granted by God; a special favor.
Mercy is defined as compassionate treatment, especially of those under one's power; clemency; a disposition to be kind and forgiving; something for which to be thankful; a blessing.

In our society, we're not big on forgiveness. We say it but we don't live it. If a person was imprisoned and he is reformed he/she has the hardest time being accepted. We don't focus on rehabilitation and reformation but on disposal.

We are all fallen people, but God can change any life and turn it around for His glory. We've seen it in the Bible in the case of Paul, but I've also seen many instances of this in my life. I know people that used to smoke or drink and now they don't. One particular person attributes it to God drastically removing the desire for cigarettes and since that day he's never smoked. Like Paul, your passions were channeled in the wrong direction. God can and does change lives, even ours. It's up to us to believe this and treat new creations as new creations.

I want my life to be overflowing with grace and mercy towards others even if I'm sometimes hurt by it. I want to be a lightning rod to affect change in others. I want the Light that is in me be a bright light to all. I don't ever want to write people off or have this as a standard way of operating. I believe in all of this that God has and will guide and give me discernment so that I know how to interact with whomever I come in contact with.

As Christians, we are recipients of God's grace and mercy; may we bestow these gifts to others also. When people show you who they are, but allow for the possibility of change.

But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!) Ephesians 2:4,5 [NLT]

How often do you grant grace and mercy to others? Pray that God would give you opportunities to increase in this area.


Friday, October 7, 2016

Life Happens

Ironically, around the time I booked my flight to go to NY was the day my friend found out about her dad's cancer diagnosis. I was hemming and hawing about booking my trip and was having a pretty emotional morning - one minute laughing, the next tears running down my face - all because I was thinking of Mummy and what I would be facing in NY.

So she saw me crying that day and then when she heard the news regarding her Dad, the tables were flipped. We both thought it no coincidence that we were together for the bulk of that day.

Comfort those wherewith you have been comforted....these words keep coming back to me now.

I find myself looking at things through a new lens - a lens of greater empathy due to the loss of a parent; a lens of dealing with medical staff at this difficult time; a lens of trying to keep your wits about you when everything seems to be going wrong.

Comfort those....

I always feel inadequate yet I've been able to share just the tiniest bit of information that may be helpful. For example, you can appeal a discharge since when you are being discharged from a hospital it should be what is considered a safe discharge. That there are agencies and programs that exist so that you can get long-term care at home for elderly or ill parents. That taking care of a sick parent at home is not just a physical endeavor but an emotional one as well. That the social work team at a hospital is very important as they provide beneficial information outside of what is provided by medical staff.

Comfort those....

I may be in some sort of fog right now navigating my way out; but as I do, I'll remember that I'm not in this alone; that I'm not comfortless and even now I can help and encourage others.

He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us. 2 Corinthians 1:4 [NLT]

Do you need comfort? Are you making yourself available to comfort others?


Monday, October 3, 2016

Mornings With Children

It seems that no matter how much you plan, organize and strategize mornings with children can sometimes be chaotic. Since the Little One missed a week of school she has had to make up a boatload of schoolwork. (BTW, what's the point of missing school due to an excused absence and still having to make up all the work? Isn't that why it was excused?! rant over).

On Friday she found out that she had to do a project in a weekend that everyone in the class had at least two weeks to do. She decided that she would tackle this project and get it done. I don't know if you know, but 8th-grade work nowadays is not like when you and I were in school. They're expected to know how to use technology well and incorporate into their assignments.  She's done more PowerPoint's at 13 than I did at 20. What was a PowerPoint back then?! (Second rant over.) Of course, there's always the Mac vs PC argument, and this teacher wanted the assignment completed in Keynote which is the Mac version of PowerPoint. Well, we're not a Mac house, so that's that. Anyhow she does the Keynote part of the project on her phone very tediously and eventually gets frustrated. The first part was to write a 600-word report.

This morning she wakes up and realizes that there is a capability in PowerPoint to add a voice recording, so she attempts to complete the presentation this morning. Let me add the presentation was completed but part of the assignment was to record an interview as part of the presentation. (As I type this, this all seems a bit much for one weekend.) So she was going to record the interview this morning, This recording took at least 5 minutes. She did it once, she did it twice, she even attempted it a third time but it would not work. Each time she played back the presentation the recording was not included.

It is now 7:50 and we must leave because school starts at 8. She eats breakfast in the car as I drive to school.

She is so sad as she gets to school. She asks, "Why do I miss her so much?" She is just a mess and I pray with her and let her know that she can take her time. We hug for a while until she eventually regroups. She eventually gets out of the car, and I continue to pray as I make my way home.

Even without the specter of grief, mornings can be crazy. I know that she has to go through this and I'll do my best to continue to guide, support and comfort her. Sometimes in spite of our best efforts, things fall apart in the morning. Laundry is misplaced or worse no clean underwear; can't find a shoe or a book that's needed that day;  lunch is forgotten;  homework did not make it to the book bag. There's so much that can go wrong.

As a mother I've learned to take it easy, because unfortunately yelling or making empty threats just does not help....at all. Also, if I wake up early before all this mayhem, I'm better equipped to deal with it. Thankfully, this is not every day or even most days.

“I have loved you, my people, with an everlasting love. With unfailing love I have drawn you to myself. Jeremiah 31:3[NLT]
I hope tomorrow brings a better morning.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

See You at the Pole

I hate gimmicks. When I initially heard about See You at the Pole I thought it was a gimmick to get students to pray at their (public) schools. Over the years, on this day I would sometimes encourage my children to participate by dropping them off extra early and waiting around to see what would happen. Usually, it was nothing.

I've been in this weird place recently and I'm sure a lot of it has to do with my mother's death. I feel irritable and really have no patience for nonsense; if this was the case before, it's worse now. Life is precious and it's too short to waste on foolishness. I'm irritable because I think they are things that I need to say but struggle with how to say them; how to make them palatable for the hearer. In all of my rantings and ravings (if you wish to call them that) I want to be heard. Perhaps I've been feeling this way with God also, as my prayer time has taken a nosedive. If I do pray these days, it's simply because I'm disciplined. Sometimes discipline carries you when your heart can't. But I also know He's a loving God and understands everything about me. Ironically, it would seem that I should be praying more now, but I'm not.

The Little One said she wanted to participate in Pray at the Pole at her school. So we woke up extra early and got her there. As I was about to drive off, this thought ran through my brain, "I want to pray too!" This thought was in stark contrast to how I've felt recently. So I parked and joined the other students, teachers and parents at the pole.

I needed that time of prayer. My soul was refreshed by hearing the prayers of others, by seeing students of all ages participating, and by simply praying. We prayed in small groups and then ended in a communal prayer. It might have been 10 or 15 minutes but it felt longer based on the refreshment it provided.

So while this still seems gimmicky to me, any opportunity for prayer is one that we should all grab and use often. Pray at the pole, pray at your bedside, pray in your car, pray on the train, pray on your bike, pray anywhere. Don't wait for a day or an event, just pray. Pray by yourself or with others, but pray. Pray for your country, your job, your school, your relationships, your children and their (future spouses), tasks you need to accomplish, for opportunities. Pray for wisdom, understanding, discernment, discretion. Pray when you're happy or sad and anything in between. Just pray.

Never stop praying. 1 Thessalonians 5:17 [NLT]

Did you pray today, at the pole or anywhere?