Stephen and Courtney

Stephen and Courtney

Friday, September 1, 2017

Who Are You?

Many years ago Stephen and I went through years of infertility.  If you have been through that journey or are in it now I am sorry.  I know the loneliness, fear, and pain that shows up every day.  I know it feels forever.  We went through several doors and then backed up and closed them before the Lord led us to the path that gave us our kids.  After a particularly hard treatment I was waiting to find out if we were pregnant.  I was praying one afternoon... when I say praying I mean pleading with the Lord to give us a baby.  I was reading that the Lord does not give us a spirit of fear.  I was fearing.  So I opened the Greek dictionary to look up fear.  As I searched the page my eyes immediately came to the word grace instead.  I sat reading the definition of grace and thinking about His character.  I saw that the Greek word for grace was Charis.
Short Definition: grace, favor, kindness
Definition: (a) grace, as a gift or blessing brought to man by Jesus Christ, (b) favor, (c) gratitude, thanks, (d) a favor, kindness.

I got up and sent an email to my mom and Stephen's mom asking them to change their prayer.  We prayed that in God's charis he would give us Charis.  

A week later I found out that the Lord had blessed us with a pregnancy.  We rejoiced in His charis.  Fast forward to an 18-week sonogram and I asked the PA to take a guess on the gender of our twins.  She quickly found Drew and told me it was a boy.  Then she moved to the next baby and told me it was another boy.  I timidly responded that I think that is the same baby and she assured me it wasn't.  I knew it was.  I would have been ecstatic to have two boys but I knew that was the same baby.  A few weeks later we saw the doctor and she confirmed a boy... and a girl.  We knew her name would be Charis.  

I often tell Charis the origin of her name in Greek and that she is our "gift from the Giver".  She loves that part of who she is.  One day when she was little she sat in a box and yelled "Look, I am a gift from the Giver"!  The other day I was putting something on her desk and saw her name tag.  She had written her name and then "gift from the giver".  I pray she remembers who she is as she gets older.  When the world, classmates, boys, or circumstances tell her something else I pray she is rooted in Jesus and remember that she is always our Gift from the Giver.  

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Last Spring Break my family went on a trip to Ruidoso, NM.  It was beautiful and we went for a hike one day in an isolated area.  As we walked we noticed that we were by the stream and had heard that bears were waking up so Stephen would call out every few feet so that we wouldn’t scare a bear.  Even though we were all alone in the woods I felt awkward with him yelling out.  You know that embarrassed feeling you get for other people sometimes?  As we came around a cluster of trees Stephen yelled out and we were answered by a low growl.  We stopped and he yelled and the growl came again.  At this time we looked at each other with hearts pounding and I thought maybe the yells were worth my awkward feeling, put the kids between us, and turned around to hurry out of there.  This bear was nice enough to give us a warning.  However, this experience reminded me about our Mama hearts and the fierce love we have for our children.  We have all heard about the Mama Bear tendency to fiercely protect our children.  When someone messes with our kid we have a primal response to react. 

This Mama Bear response, while innate in us all, needs to be tempered.  That is the hard part. The part goes against nature.  We get this term Mama Bear because we mimic the response of a real bear protecting her cubs.  Mama bears often attack out of a perceived threat.  She sees a human and out of fear that he will hurt her cub attacks him.  Maybe the humans were ignorant city folks like us out for a stroll, but the Mama Bear attacks without knowledge.  We as Moms often have that same reaction out of fear.  We perceive a threat… whether it be another child, a teacher, a parent, culture and react aggressively without all the information and taking the time to pray through our response.   Maybe there is a better way.  Let us consider the actions of the Mama Bird.

The Mama bird loves, comforts, and cares for her young.  However, she also teaches them to fly on their own.  I have to teach my children how to tell others how they want to be treated, how to solve conflict, how to speak up, how to love and forgive others, and how to pray and not react.  Both care deeply, love, and protect their children. The difference comes in how that is played out.  The Mama Bird gently even nudges her babies out of the nest when she knows they are ready.  We must encourage our children to step out and try new ideas and experiences.  This will build their character, independence, and responsibility. The nudge can be hard for us moms at times.  We may have to give the nudge with a brave face and then go text our friends for support and prayer.  I have many seen schools offer a “Tears and Cheers Coffee” for kindergarten parents after they drop their child off for their first day of kindergarten.  We put on a brave face and tell our children how wonderful school will be and then retreat to the school cafeteria for camaraderie, support, or a big high 5 depending on your emotions.  As they learn to step out in these small ways with our encouragement then, they will be confident and be able to step out in Faith one day as the Lord leads.  Our job is to prepare them for what the Lord calls them to.  We love, pray, release, and watch.  

When we mimic the bear we damage relationships, hurt people, and teach our children that they are not safe with out us.  There will be times for us to step in and protect our children but we must do so in a spirit of peace and reconciliation.  Often times the threat that we perceived was actually an opportunity to teach, model grace, show forgiveness, or train our children how to deal with conflict.  Ecclesiastes 7:9 says “Do not be provoked in your spirit, anger resides in the lap of fools”.  We should stop and ask ourselves first what the Lord would have us to do, what can our child learn from this, can we overlook the offense, or what our response should be.  Proverbs 18:2 says, “A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion”.  Let’s stop and consider the intentions or position from someone that we are tempted to “go Mama Bear” on.  The Word tells us that by tempering this desire to attack and praying through our response we will avoid being a “fool”.  Parenting is hard and we will make mistakes in handling issues that arise but we can reach out to reconcile and try again.   Our relationships will stay intake, our children will learn life skills, and we will honor the Lord when we step out of attack mode.  Let us remember the bird and the bravery and strength she shows as she gently leads, encourages, and even nudges her babies.    

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Sleeping in My Play Clothes

As Drew was showering, Stephen and I were in his room and Stephen laughed that Drew had laid out his play clothes to sleep in. This has been a new habit he has gotten into this summer.  He likes to get up and be ready for play!  Stephen was smiling and I said, “You like that he does that.  Why?”  Stephen replied, “Shouldn’t we all be that way?”  I thought, “Hmmm, I missed something.”  I mean I wear a T-shirt to bed and that’s pretty unexciting.  Stephen pointed out that Drew goes to bed every night in anticipation of a great day tomorrow. In his mind, it’s going to be so great that he doesn’t want to waste any time in the morning getting dressed…he just wants to get to it!

Stephen is right…Shouldn’t we all be that way?  As adults we go to bed thinking, “Uh, I have to go to work tomorrow” and “there will be traffic on Monday morning.”  Or, “I have to get three loads of laundry done and go grocery shopping WITH kids in the morning.” We forget about the joy that we can have in the seemingly mundane things we do each day.

I am going to choose to go to bed like Drew does. I’m going to close my eyes in anticipation of what God will do the next day or in thankfulness for what He has already done.  The three loads of laundry means that I have a house full of people I love.  And, let us all go to bed in thankfulness of Wal-Mart’s grocery pick-up.

Let’s all sleep in our play clothes in anticipation of how great tomorrow will be!

Monday, May 30, 2016

Disciples Among Us

I was reading this morning in John about when Jesus called a few of the disciples that had been listening to John the Baptist to follow Him.  One of these young men was named Andrew. I was drawn to him because my son is named Andrew.  It hit me that my Andrew and the disciple had a lot in common… they are both very social and a natural networkers. 

My son was called a “communicator” by his sweet teacher.  As a former teacher I can translate… that means he talks a lot.  It’s true.  We recently moved into a new neighborhood.  When we moved we thought there was only one boy on our street.  Somehow, without leaving the confines of our yard, my child has brought children from the far corners of the earth to our home.  Any given day we will have between 7-10 kids in our yard.  We love it because he brought us a whole mission field that we didn’t know existed. 

Jesus called Andrew to follow Him and he came and saw where Jesus was staying, listened to His preaching, and then immediately went and got his friends to bring them to Jesus.  In John 1:40-42 says, “the first thing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon and tell him, “We have found the Messiah” (that is, the Christ).  And he brought him to Jesus.”

My Andrew has yelled out to the yard full of kids sitting eating popsicles  “Who here believes in Jesus?” (we are working on his delivery).   God has created him this way.  He networks and shares his passions with others… whether it be about the Aggies, hunting, or Jesus. 

As I was laughing that morning that Drew is like his namesake.  I realized that often times the thing that we work on to reign in with our children is the very thing God uses for His kingdom.  Andrew’s mom may have been exasperated by the boys he brought over all the time or been frustrated as she tried to get through the marketplace with him as he stopped to talk to everyone. 

God used this trait in Andrew to draw Peter (whom he chose as the Rock to build His church on) and others to Himself.  Andrew was also the disciple that found the boy with the fish and loaves that God multiplied to feed the crowd.  He was passionate about people and Jesus.    

As I looked at the disciples that Jesus chose to spread His Gospel and be martyred for Him I realized that they are like the children we all know.  The disciples were most likely between 18-20 years old. They were not young boys but were still not grown men.  They were normal humans like us.  Andrew would have been the boy at school that is constantly in trouble for talking.  He is the one that goes to school for recess. 

Peter is the impulsive one.  He is the kid you discuss self-control with everyday.  The one that has big reactions and then feels bad. 

Thomas is the kid that always wants to know “why”.  He will question you and keep you on your toes to explain what you are telling him. 

James and John… they had the helicopter mom asking for her boys to sit at Jesus’ right hand.  These boys had a competitive spirit.  John at first bragged about getting to Jesus’ empty tomb first but then allowed Peter to enter first. 

Philip was ever practical.  He may be like the kid that has a hard time letting loose or thinking outside the box.  Philip was in charge of supplies.  He was responsible and predictable. 

The Lord uses these normal young men to do great things.  He even used the character traits that as mom or teachers can drive us crazy.  My husband and I have told our son to eat and that it was time to stop talking at dinner repeatedly.  We have had to train him that he can’t ask if the stranger at the store can come over for dinner.  The traits in our children that want to make us face palm can be used for His glory.  As parents we have to train and disciple them in how to use these traits in a productive way.  How they can be who God created them to be but honor Him with their personality.  We still have to put in the time training them how to use their gifts and personalities to His glory.  But, we can laugh to ourselves and pray that God will use this child to do big things for the kingdom in the unique way they were created. 

My point is… Parents/ Teachers when you want to put your head in your hands and you feel frustration that your kid is not getting it… just remember that the disciples all had flaws, were human, and God used them in mighty ways.  He may choose to use the thing that drives us the most crazy to bring others to Himself.    

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Fixer Uppers In Progress

Have you ever had a “morning” with your kids?  The kind where you don’t know whether to pull them back in the car at drop off and hug them tight or throw up a peace sign as your tires squeal out of the school parking lot?  We had one of those mornings not long ago.  Everything that my daughter put on “bothered” her.  Nevermind, that 12 hours earlier I had her try it on to avoid this scene and all clothing was fine but, 12 hours later she is tired and so now nothing feels right.  My son was more interested in loving on the dog than putting pants on and unfortunately, pants are a required piece of their uniform. 

We finally got in the car and started the trek to school.  I was feeling sad and wanting to set a new tone for the morning before drop off but one of the kids had forgot their watch so they were still upset.  We passed the local water park that we go to in the summer and my son looked over to see that is had been torn up for renovations.  He was upset and asked why they had done that and would we be able to go again.  I explained that they were making repairs to get it ready for the summer and he said, “But it looks ruined!”.  I tried to explain and related it to renovations we had done on our home.  I said, “Do you remember when our kitchen and bathrooms were all torn up?  It looked ruined.  Everything was removed and all that was left was not pretty and was messy.  But, they had to do that in order to make it beautiful.”  The words were no sooner out of my mouth than God whispered… “That is what I am doing.  It looks messy but I am building beautiful character into them and you”. 

As I thought about the Truth that He is at work in us and removing the old, sinful parts is messy but He is faithful to build us into something beautiful for Him I was brought to tears.  If you have ever lived in a house being renovated it is just plain awful.  It is messy, inconvenient, and hard.  You may get to know new neighbors because the contractor forgot to hook up your only working toilet before he left for the evening.  You will have to get used to sharing your space with others.  You will live in the dust and debris that comes with demolition.  That is how our sanctification is as well.  You may have to step out of your comfort zone, obey the Holy Spirit that lives in you, and be among the mess.  But the great reward of allowing God to come in and do His work in you is beautiful sanctification. 

I need this in myself.  I need His Spirit to tear down the dry wall of my sinful nature and replace it with His character.  It is also so encouraging to me as a mother.  Raising children is wonderful but working to develop Godly character in them can be difficult.  We work really hard and don’t see the fruit immediately.  That morning I felt like God was telling me that it is okay that it is hard, it’s supposed to be.  It’s okay that we are not perfect and sanitized, we will be messy emotionally and even spiritually while He works in us.  It is okay for it not to be comfortable, He has more in store. 

Sometimes things have to be torn up and look messy before they can be made beautiful.  We can trust in His process and yield to His teaching. 

“being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”