Daddy Said So

Of our seven children two of them are girls. They are 12 & 13. I just imagined a collective sigh of understanding from all the parents of teen and tween girls across this vast land. Honestly, I would have expected myself to have been able to expertly handle them as I was one myself. And yet, too many times I find myself in the exact place I was only last night. Let me explain.

The two girls were in conflict. Emotions were running rampant. Hormones were obviously raging. Tears were coursing down the cheek of one girl in the face of what she obviously considered a GREAT injustice. A frown of defiance was in place on the face of the other girl as she adamantly stood her ground. I had to make a decision. I had no idea what the right call was in this particular situation.

I tried reasoning, lecturing, scolding, cautioning, discussing and listening. Finally I felt my own temperature rising, my own feelings getting tender, my own melt down pending. It was at that moment I noticed my husband.

There he sat, engrossed in a tv show of some sort, happily allowing me to deal with the emotional upheaval before me. Suddenly I knew what the right decision was. It was crystal clear.

I asked Henry to pause his show. I told the girls to go stand before their daddy. I gave him a very brief explanation of the crisis. I told each girl they could each in turn present their case and Daddy would make a judgement call. He did appear a bit startled. After all, I’d never taken this route before. But, he complied.

They began. This time I was observing from the sideline. I was observing them in all their drama and distress. I was observing him and his lack thereof. Then, without hesitation, he decided. That was that. The girls did not argue, whether they agreed or not. After all, due process had been adhered to. Henry went back to his tv and I told them to go clean their room without another word to each other.

I can not begin to explain to you how eye-opening this experience was to me. Now, in retrospect it is all so clear. If this man has managed to still be the love of my life after 30 years if marriage and has calmly dealt with my intense emotions, tender feelings and enormous passionate personality, who better to do the same with his daughters? Lesson Learned.

“My child, listen when your father corrects you. Don’t neglect your mother’s instruction.”
(Proverbs 1:8 NLT)

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Landscaped by God

Weeks ago I bought the supplies necessary to have a painting activity with my five youngest children. You might conclude that it is lovely that I am willing to share my talent and teach others. The problem with that line of thought is I am not an artist myself and have attended one group painting experience. One and one only.

However, that one class did inspire me to want to share the experience with my youngest five as we homeschool through the summer months. They were very excited about the prospect. So was I. I eagerly purchased a canvas for each of us and an assortment of acrylic paints plus, a collection of brushes.

Busy days have delayed our art project attempt and as I compiled a list of ‘things that needing doing’ this morning, I decided today might be the day or perhaps tomorrow. Surely we could do it sometime this week. Surely.

That’s when it hit me. How on earth did I think I could teach them to do what I don’t know how to do myself. The googling began in earnest. Eventually I came across this YouTube.

A landscape. A simple landscape. Surely that was a good starting point. Suddenly my wheels were turning. This landscape would become the focus of all our summer homeschool activities. It could be the backdrop for stories and poems and songs and go way beyond the painting project. Creativity unleashed! By leaving out the details we would open up a world of learning.

Then, as is often the case my thoughts turned towards The Lord and I contemplated how the Master Artist, who is the original creative genius, had taken the blank canvas of my life and painted a beautiful landscape. He then allowed me to fill in the details with my choices, my flavor, my own creativity.

When I searched for the word landscape in scripture and came across this Message wording, I just smiled all over. The prayer I breathed out came as naturally as the vibrant colors being stroked upon a blank canvas. This is what I want. This is what I desire. Oh, to be landscaped with the Word by God and see my life become a salvation-garden. I can’t imagine any painting more intriguing.

“In simple humility, let our gardener, God, landscape you with the Word, making a salvation-garden of your life.”(James 1:21 MSG)

Measure of Success

I attended my very first writer’s convention this weekend. http://www.scwconference.com/SCWConference.com/Southern_Christian_Writers_Conference.html

The first thing I must say concerning this conference is, “I will never be the same again.” I was changed, altered, made different. My eyes were opened to, as overly dramatic as this may sound, a new world. This leads to the second thing I would say concerning the conference. “I never knew how much I didn’t know.” As another attendee commented, I didn’t even know what questions to ask.

One of the keynote addresses was delivered by Angela Hunt. http://www.angelahuntbooks.com/

One of the many things she talked about was the measure of success. I gleaned so much as she spoke. In order to be a successful writer, I don’t have to stop being everything else. As a Christian Writer I am foremost a Christian. That simply means there is only one measure of success. Have I been faithful to attend to the task put before me now? Right now.

If we get so caught up in the way we are to do whatever we feel God has led us to do, we may easily forget the why we are to do whatever we feel God has led us to do. While it is understandable for a writer to want to be published and become successful, just as any other person pursuing a dream, we must be cautious in how we measure success and who gets the credit.

We must make the effort, take the time, expend the energy and walk through the open doors. But, never forget it is The Lord who gives you the courage, opens the doors and gives you the strength to walk through them.

‘When you become successful, don’t say, “I’m rich, and I’ve earned it all myself.” Instead, remember that the Lord your God gives you the strength to make a living. That’s how he keeps the promise he made to your ancestors.’ Deuteronomy 8:17, 18

Adoptabilty

When it comes to a child’s chances of being adopted, certain factors are considered. Things that shouldn’t matter, do matter to many people. It seems that when people start considering adoption they feel they can do what a birth parent can’t do, look for guarantees. Certain stipulations are considered and decided upon.

Adoptability is determined by age, ethnicity, special needs and being a part of a sibling group. We have adopted older children; usually that term applies to children over three years of age. We have adopted sibling groups. We have adopted children with what some would consider special needs. We have adopted children of a different ethnicity than our own. There are special challenges with each of these special situations. There are also special rewards when you overcome these challenges.

Can it work? Can you really build a family, bond properly and have a functioning parent/child relationship with a child that comes into your life after those extremely important formative first years. Yes, absolutely yes! A resounding yes!

It isn’t easy. Matters of the heart are NEVER easy. When you choose to love, you are making yourself vulnerable and putting yourself at risk. That is the truth whether you are adopting, birthing a child, marrying or committing to any serious relationship. A successful relationship takes a lot of hard work, sometimes requires intervention, grows as hurdles are overcome and will never, when scrutinized, be considered perfect. It will however be considered a great pleasure.

“God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure.” (Ephesians 1:5 NLT)

If we were to be graded to determine our adaptability, we would come up short, be considered a high risk, counted as a great challenge. I’m so glad that God was willing to take a chance on me when loving me was risky.

Rewritten: The Next Chapter

I enjoy reading many translations and even transliterations of the Bible. Doing so often gives me a new perspective on familiar passages. As I read the following passage this morning I felt like shouting out a hearty Amen!

“God made my life complete when I placed all the pieces before him. When I got my act together, he gave me a fresh start. Now I’m alert to God ‘s ways; I don’t take God for granted. Every day I review the ways he works; I try not to miss a trick. I feel put back together, and I’m watching my step. God rewrote the text of my life when I opened the book of my heart to his eyes. (Psalm 18:20-24 MSG)

It’s true! It is absolutely true! God has made my life complete! He has been faithful to give me many fresh starts. I do feel put back together.

My heart-felt sincere prayer is that I will stay alert to GOD’S ways and that I will never be lulled into complacency concerning His works. I’m watching my step!

As a writer who is hoping to one day be published and learning about rewrites, this passage is even more poignant. I am so thankful that the story of my life is being rewritten by the Master. I can’t wait to read the next chapter.

Deeper Waters

Yesterday I started this blog. In two days I attend my first writer’s conference. I definitely feel like I’m abandoning the safe, shallow waters and leaving what is comfortable and familiar far behind.

Practically speaking it would make more sense to stay right where I am, doing what I’m already doing. It’s not like I’m not busy, occupied and knee deep in many worthwhile activities. And besides, I’ve tried before to focus on my writing.

However, one thing I have learned as a disciple of Christ, as His student and follower. He seldom leaves us where we are. He will often ask us to launch into deeper waters. He may even insist you try again, one more time.

‘When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Now go out where it is deeper, and let down your nets to catch some fish.”’ (Luke 5:4 NLT)

This wasn’t Simon’s first time in a boat. He was a skilled fisherman. And yet, he was willing to heed the words of Jesus.

“Master,” Simon replied, “we worked hard all last night and didn’t catch a thing. But if you say so, I’ll let the nets down again.” (Luke 5:5 NLT)

If you say so. I can relate to this response. That’s about where I am this morning. “If you say so Lord.” Submission. Admission. Perhaps, just perhaps, the God of this universe can see something I can’t see. The results?

“And this time their nets were so full of fish they began to tear!” (Luke 5:6 NLT)

Perhaps you’re weary from trying and seeing little fruit from your labor. Perhaps you have tried before without success. Perhaps your pretty confident in your own abilities.

I’m not sure where you stand, but, as for me, I’m taking off my waders, getting in the boat and heading to deep waters. I’m ready to be awestruck!

For he was awestruck by the number of fish they had caught, as were the others with him. (Luke 5:9 NLT)