Tuesday, May 28, 2013

My Cup Overflows

It is summer and I know I should be thrilled and downright overjoyed to spend lots and lots of unscheduled days with my two soon-to-be three year olds.  Part of me is over the moon excited, but that part is somewhere close to twenty percent.  (Okay, ten percent.)  The other eighty (or ninety) percent of this momma is stressed out and dreading those rainy days and one-hundred-degrees-plus days and days like today where laundry is the big crescendo.   I shudder to think that my kids only get along for an average of ten minutes and that’s on a good day!  I cringe when I think about all the effort it takes to cover my table with plastic, whip out the paint, masking tape and construction paper just to have Jake tell me “my done” after thirty seconds. 

This morning I confessed all of this to Jesus, while at the same time thanking Him for the tremendous blessing He plopped in my lap just three short years ago.  I was honest when I told Him that I wonder some days if I’m cut out for all of this mothering stuff.  Why else do I feel such dread when I gaze at our usually cluttered calendar and see box after box of white, empty space?

After pouring out my heart, I picked up my pen and made a list of things I could do with my kids.  Things that they would enjoy and I would enjoy, then I prayed I’d have my sanity intact by the time I checked off each one. 

Read a book
Play hopscotch in the driveway
Have a picnic lunch
Have a tea party with real water on the back porch
Paint a picture (even though I know Jake will only last about thirty seconds)

When I was done with my list, I smiled to myself thinking, “This is going to be good.” 
Let me tell you how my day has gone so far:

READ A BOOK:  In two separate accidents, both kids (I promise I am not making this up) peed all over the bathroom floor and all over the basket of books I keep in there for potty training.  So we skipped to the next activity on the list while we let our books dry out…

HOPSCOTCH:  Jake cried when I took a piece of chalk out of his bucket to make the hopscotch squares and Lilly tripped and skinned her knee two minutes later hopping from square to square.  She cried too.

PAINT:  Jake lasted only thirty seconds.

PICNIC LUNCH:  Lilly asked me ten times for peanut butter even though I told her ten times it was already on her plate.

TEA PARTY:  After filling up pitchers with water, both kids poured and poured and poured until their entire pitcher was poured out all over the table outside.  (Apparently, tea kettles with make believe tea inside them are much easier to control!)

Somewhere between the pee, the tears, the empty pitchers and overflowing cups, I realized that I had to teach Jake and Lilly when to stop pouring.  So we started over and I showed them how to stop right before the water got to the top of the cup.  They watched and listened, then I filled up their pitchers again and they tried on their own.   

And then it happened: twenty glorious minutes of pouring out water into two tiny teacups and then dumping it back in the pitcher to start all over again.   No talking.  No yelling.  No crying.  No fighting.  No whining.  Just pouring and filling, pouring and filling.  

In the silence that is so, so sacred these days, I whispered a “thank you” to Jesus. 

Thank you for this quiet moment.

Thank you for trusting me to teach these kids simple things like when to stop pouring water into a tiny little tea cup and huge, life changing things like what it looks like to follow You.

Thank you for giving me this glimpse of what it looks like to be poured out, thinking I don’t have enough, only to discover that my cup is overflowing with blessing.

Thank you for filling my cup so that I can pour it out.

You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. 
Psalm 23:5


Monday, May 13, 2013

Late To the Party

Yes, I joined Facebook in 2013.  I showed up late to the party and this post will hopefully explain where I’ve been.  While everyone else was talking about the newest, biggest thing, I was in no mood to party.  I was mourning the loss of this perfect little plan that I had worked so, so hard to create.  About six years ago, God grabbed the plan I had scripted and began to revise it.  When His red correcting pen touched my life, I was not too happy.  In fact, when I looked at the marks He was making, I got angry.  He began to add parts I did not wish to include.  He crossed out parts that I was sure were necessary to my happiness.

And so began this journey with Jesus- a journey that brought me through the anger, through the pain, through the waiting, loss and grief to a place of peace and a place of freedom with a whole new identity.  When I uttered a teeny tiny little prayer, I had no idea that it had the power to change my life so drastically.  I was in a place of desperation, and I felt completely alone.  I have been talking to Jesus since I was a little girl, but it wasn’t until I hit the lowest point of my entire life that I told Him I was done trying to do it without Him.  I loved Him, but I had never trusted Him enough to give Him every single part of my life.  I had gripped that well written plan so tightly that He had to lift my fingers off of it, one by one, and it took some time! 

I decided to trust that He was not destroying my plan with all those red marks but instead He was making it better.  Slowly, I would hand over every part of my life to Him to use as He pleased.  This journey with Jesus was so much more than a freedom walk.  I began to realize that never before had I really seen myself the way He sees me.  He began to show me in amazing and crazy ways who I was… in Him.  I felt like a new person, like I had been given a new name, but I was still Kelly.  About six weeks ago, it finally made sense to me.  I had not been given a new name, but I had been given new eyes to see who God had named me thirty two years ago, on the day I was born. 

So many times throughout this journey I’ve prayed, asking Him if I was ready to go to the party.  And for so long, His reply has been, “Child, that won’t be good for you.”  After getting the same response over and over again, I figured that He meant it would never be good for me.  He knows me and all the insecurity I’ve been hauling around with me for way too long, so when He said “no,” I said “ok.”  God intentionally kept me from it so that I would trust what He was doing in my life, instead of being so caught up in what He was doing in everyone else’s lives. 

The thing I love about our God is that we will never come to place in life where we figure Him out… not ever!  And so, to answer the question that everyone is asking me:  I came late to the party because my Daddy said I was finally ready to go.  I know some people will read this and think, “She just waited until she got her life together.”  To which I chuckle and say, “Hardly.  There is nothing together about my life.  I’ve just figured out Who holds my life together, and it is a daily decision to put my life in His hands.”

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

"My Mark"

I love watching my kids create things. They are totally thrilled with a blank sheet of paper, the possibilities of what it will become endless.    Whether it is stamps, crayons, stickers or paint, nothing brings my two little ones as much joy as creating a piece of artwork to show Daddy when he gets home from work. After their projects are deemed satisfactory, they sit on the kitchen counter until the door handle turns and in walks Daddy.  At the sound of his voice, Jake and Lilly sprint to the kitchen, pluck their pictures off the counter and thrust them into his hands, saying “I made that for you, Daddy!”  I know it is the absolute highlight of his day! 

A few weeks ago while driving on a beautiful, clear day Jake spotted a white mark against the crisp blue sky.  “My mark!” he exclaimed.  It reminded me of the chalk marks that cover our driveway, fat and full of texture, and seemingly endless.    I explained to Jake that an airplane made the mark in the sky and even though we couldn’t see the airplane any more the mark showed us where it had been.  As we continued down the road, he repeated to himself, “My mark! My mark!”  

That day I thought about how our lives leave a mark as well.  We try to be so conscious of what kind of legacy we are leaving for our children.  As I stared with my son at that beautiful chalky line in the sky, I realized that the only thing that will last when I’m no longer here is the fruit God produces from my little old seeds.  Those seeds are not intended to sit on a shelf, collecting dust.  They are meant to be planted, in order to produce more seeds, which are to be planted, and so on. 

Today Jake spotted another airplane mark in the sky and this time Lilly got all caught up in the excitement, too.  As two-year-olds love to do, Jake quickly claimed his mark and excitedly shouted out, “My mark!  See my mark!”  He was enthusiastically pointing at the line in the sky as if he had something to do with putting it there!  Then he said, “I made that.  I made that mark.”   

Of course I did not correct him.  I did not point out that clearly an airplane made that mark and he obviously was not listening when I explained this fact to him weeks ago.  I would never dream of telling my son that there is no way he could ever reach the sky, let alone color on it.  So I said what any mother would say when her son claims to have colored the sky.  With my eyes locked on his in my rear view mirror, I said, “Oh, really?”  He nodded his head emphatically and then said, “I made that for Daddy.” 

Sometimes I think God wishes we would just look at His world through the eyes of a child. Everywhere we turn there are marks; some are subtle, some are bold.  Creation is covered in His beauty. His fingerprints are all over our lives.  We get to leave a mark when we leave this world.  How magnificent our mark will be if we would paint the sky with the recipient of our artwork in mind!  We are all holding a brush and our life is the blank canvas.  Some of us paint for ourselves.  Some paint for our children.  But the mark displayed most beautifully is the mark that is made for the Father.  When my time here is up, I want be able to say the same thing about my mark: “I made that for you, Daddy!”