Saturday, March 15, 2014

Struggling with Balance

It's so hard sometimes to balance all my roles, and today I am really struggling . . . follower of Jesus, wife, mom, social worker, student, pastor's wife, friend, daughter . . . the list of roles I can think of right now.  A couple of weeks ago, a coworker asked me what my top five priorities were and asked me to list them in order.  I listed the top five things I shared just now.  But as I walked away, I had to turn around and say . . . "That's what I want them to be . . . that's what I know they should be . . . but that's not what my time says."  And she said probably in a little nicer of a way, "Then those are not your priorities."  I felt the dagger and I wanted to argue (I think I even did a little) but deep inside I knew she was right.  It's such a struggle, and yesterday and today I have spent far too much time in pain over the situation.  The truth is that my time says social worker then student and after that I'm not even really sure.  It's all just lumped together according to urgency, which often means follower of Jesus, wife, and mom get the leftovers.  Daughters is definitely dead last even after other things that should be less important.  So I'm a mess.  I know I need to make changes, but I don't know what those changes are or how to do it.

Some of the roles I do as part of being a good wife and mom.  Some of them, while I do them, I am definitely doing them as a representative of Jesus, so it's not as linear as some want to make it, but it is still a problem when I consistently miss my own children because I am taking care of other people's children, even if it is during work hours.  I never really thought I would work full time for most of my children's lives.  I did have the blessing of being able to contract for so many years for the State of Oklahoma, and I thank God for that all the time, but the past few years have been tough as I have been back in an office full time.  In some ways it was easier because work and home were separate.  Before they were not, and in ministry they definitely are not, so there was something healthy about it.  But in most ways it has been more difficult.  I miss so much . . . not just don't get to be there, but actually have a terrible ache in my heart for a couple days because I am not there.  Sometimes it is something significant, such as missing David's long jump yesterday; sometimes it is just a routine thing like being in their classrooms and knowing their teachers.

So I'm partly blogging this because I need to get it out, and I'm partly blogging it to ask for prayer as I try to figure out how to best handle the whole situation . . . is it just an internal thing, and I need to make some adjustments attitudinally, or are there things I need to do with regard to my schedule, and how?  Pray that God will make that clear and that He will open doors if a change is needed.  And also, either way, I feel like I need to have a conversation with the director of the agency where I work, but for some reason, I am really struggling with doing that.  I normally don't feel too intimidated, but I do right now.

The book of James, especially James 1 is going through my head.  Trials are good . . . just figuring out what God wants from it is not easy.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

To Honor . . .

Today is the anniversary of Brent's mother's (Vanita's) homecoming . . . to Heaven that is . . . 40 years ago.  I am afraid that I often don't remember the day like I should . . . and I really want to do better.  If it weren't for her and Brent's father's sacrificial love and their obedience to God, and if it weren't for the love and nurture of his mom, Joyce, I would not have the husband that I have today.  All three of them sacrificed and obeyed and gave their lives in ways most people wouldn't.  It is amazing the different views that Brent and I have about "other" mothers (Brent does NOT like the word "stepmother") based on the way non-biological moms (and dad's in my case) treated us.  I was going to write more about it for those of you who do not know the story, but then I remembered a post on Brent's blog a few Mother's Days ago, and just thought I would share the link.  Brent expresses everything so much better than I do.  So, take some time and check out this post he wrote about his moms and his dad.  They are all incredible!!!

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Happy Birthday to David!!!!

Today David is eleven . . . eleven!!!  So hard for his mom to believe.  He announced to us a few weeks ago that we needed to celebrate big because he was becoming a pre-teen.  I thought about explaining that he has been a pre-teen all his life based on the true meaning of the word, but I did not want to burst his bubble.  He was so excited!!!  David being anywhere near a teen is harder to imagine than when his older brothers turned the same age or even older.  Maybe it's his personality, maybe it's because he is my baby boy, but he does not seem like he is old enough to be approaching the teen years.

I had a friend post a picture on Facebook several weeks ago, and this is what she said, "David did such a wonderful job today!  He is always so full of life and enthusiastic about EVERYTHING!!!  Also, he spent so much time engaging with Olivia - getting down on her level to communicate with her, high five her, hug her . . . it was quite impressive and really warmed my heart!  He even asked if he could take Olivia's lunch plate and throw it away for her . . . WOW!  He is a very special young man."  This a classmate's mother, and her daughter who she mentions is about 4, I think.  But when I got this, two things struck me . . . One, she called him a young man (not really what I think of when I look at my baby boy), and two, she described him very well.  He is enthusiastic about everything . . . even things that are not the easiest for him.

As I thought about this description of him, pictures of his life flashed through my mind.  He was such a busy toddler.  He wore me out, and I often wondered what he would be like when he grew up.  Would Brent and I be able to lead and guide him the way we did the other two boys without completely crushing him because he got into so much more trouble than them?  Would I ever sleep through the night?  Would I have to be at school all the time because he was completely frustrating his teachers?  Would he be kind and loving to his sister or other children?  The questions go on and on.  To be honest, I was often scared.  I loved him with all my heart, but oh could he frustrate me.

As I look back on just this year alone, I thank God for the work he has done in David and for the fact that Brent and I have been able to parent him and help raise a child who loves God and loves others.  He does it with all the energy and enthusiasm that God gave him.  Sometimes we have to remind him not to be overbearing, but he listens and tries.  Here are some key moments from the past year.  In July, David was baptized.  There is a video on FB of him speaking about the reason he wanted to be baptized.  It is a little difficult to hear, but it is there.

When he returned to school in the fall, we got a note home from the teacher that he was branded with character for putting others before himself.  His teacher said, "David thinks of others before himself.  He is an inspiration."  At his parent/teacher conference after the first quarter, his teacher, with tears in her eyes, thanked us for giving her the opportunity to teach David.  Wow!  That fear about his teachers being frustrated . . . not a problem.

He is the oldest child in our children's ministry at church, and he is a great helper.  We still set up and tear down every Sunday, and he is able to set up the children's ministry area independently, including tables, chairs, banners, snacks, and toys.  Then he helps the teacher with the younger children (more out of his desire than hers probably).  From the moment Sarah was born, we realized that he was going to be better around babies and younger children than we feared, and that continues today.  As my friend mentioned in her post, he gets down on their level and he engages them.  Usually they really love him.  Last week he led Sarah in devotions . . . absolutely precious.

He talks openly about God at school.  We had one teacher tell us she was not sure he was allowed to talk about Jesus as much as he was (we quickly explained to her that she was wrong), and another teacher told us that she loved how he shared about God among his peers.  She said, it's not just talk.  It's a life for him.  This is what every parent who loves Jesus wants to hear.

He is a great friend, and though I do think he might be overbearing at times, he listens to us when we redirect, and he maintains friendships, which was another thing I worried about when he was little.

He is such a blessing . . . keeping us on our toes, reminding us at times that we have to stay on our knees for all of our children, not because of major problems but just because we want to "bring him up in the way he should go" and that has proven to look different for him than for his brothers.  One of our big questions that we always ask is, How to we encourage him yet keep him humble?  it can be a struggle.  He is a child of many talents, and he likes to be involved in everything, and often he is pretty good at what he tries. It's a blessing and a curse.  We were at a wedding early in February (one month ago today actually), and he was dancing.  The boy has moves . . . and though we all struggle with the fact that he draws so much attention, he is proud and people seem to think he's good.  Anyway, he actually asked someone to video tape him.  I wished I had a turtle shell I could crawl into at that moment.  It's a struggle.  In my mind, he crossed a line.  We spend a lot of time reminding him that God gives him talents and can take them away.  He was not selected to be on the basketball team this year, which surprised all of us, but it was a great opportunity to remind him that God has a bigger plan and to talk to him about good sportsmanship and humility.  When it happened, he was disappointed, yet one of his good friends made the team, and he was so encouraging and supportive of this friend.  Last week he said to me out of the blue, "Mom, I think I know why I didn't make the basketball team.  God knew I needed to focus on my school work."  Awesome!!!!

Here are some pictures that depict David through the years.
This was eleven years ago, while we were still at the hospital.  Precious!
 He was probably two in this picture.  He already loved sports.  He was using a tee, but he could already throw a ball up in the air and hit it with the bat.  We had no idea where he got these abilities.  Brent and I were not athletes.
 This was when he was almost four.  He got this costume of Bibleman (hehe) from Grandma and Poppy.  He would not take it off.  He is watching television in this picture.
 Here is an example of why I was so exasperated some of the time.  This was one of many cheerio incidents.  This particular one happened to be a complete accident.  He was very self-sufficient and was trying to get his own cereal, just didn't know how fast they were going to come out.  However, he was the child who would empty a cabinet just to see everything on the floor.  A couple years after this when he was four, he spilled a box of cheerios, and I told him to clean it up.  We were moving into our house here in Bakersfield, so we were busy unpacking and he kept quitting (typical for that age), and I was not being consistent.  When the day came to an end, I didn't realize it, but he still hadn't finished.  The next morning I got up and just decided to clean it up myself.  David walked into the room and said, "I knew you would clean it up for me."  Oh, I was so mad.  I dumped the dustpan I had full of cheerios and made him clean it up.  That was the beginning of my realization that he knew a lot more than we gave him credit for.  He was smart . . . up to the point of making the statement that admitted his wrongdoing.
 Here's an early picture of him dancing . . . it was super cute!
David with Sarah.  As I mentioned before, we were so nervous about how he was going to treat his sister.  He was so full of energy.  His speech and language was not great, so we didn't know what he really comprehended.  We were so afraid he was going to be rough and aggressive with her, but from the moment he walked into the hospital room to meet her, he was as gentle as can be.  He absolutely adored her.
 This is just one of my favorite pictures of him.  He was three.  I love his smile and his chubby cheeks.
 This is a recent picture from the winter band concert.  He did a fabulous job on the cymbal.
 This is at the fourth grade Walk Through California event at school.  He dressed as a monk.  I didn't get to go see his performance, but Brent said he did a great job, and I did get to see video.
 Here he is on a boat at age two loving the wind in his face.
 This was when he was probably 8, learning to paddle board out at Riverwalk Park.
 This picture makes me smile.  He was less than two, and we were at Brent's grandmother's home.  This was the little container she had with toys in it.  He dumped the toys and played with the container.  I don't think I had ever heard Grandma Dorothy laugh like she did when David did this.  He was dancing around and giggling, having so much fun entertaining her.
 Such a smiley baby.  This was his first Easter.  He was about a month old.
And finally a picture of all three boys.  Clearly David was not too happy.  He had been pretty difficult this particular morning and had been in trouble.  His sad faces were so very sad.

What a great privilege it is to be able to be his mom!!!  David, I love you so very much!!!!