Tuesday, May 25, 2010

College - A Crucible

Our family is approaching another one of life's milestones. Our third child, our son, will be graduating from our homeschool in a few week's time, and grabbing hold of the first rung of that ladder he will climb for the next four years or so, college. He is full of anticipation, excitement, and I dare say a smidgen of trepidation as he looks forward to what lies ahead. I would not have it any other way. The freshness of youth, unjaded by the experiences and understandings of their parents is a necessary and needed quality for our stalwart young ones. It can never be regained, once lost; and as I have sent each of my children out into the world, I have determined this very characteristic to be inspiring rather than worrisome.

For many parents who can see clearly the battle that rages within this world, it is a fearful thing to send our kids out into it. We are well aware of how subtle and persistent our enemy is, and the stronghold he has upon our country's campuses and classrooms. How we would love to have been able to send our young men and women to institutions that uphold the truth of God's Word, but most of us do not have the means to do so. So our hearts quake and tremble, and we fall upon our knees beseeching the God Who Is Sufficient For The Needs Of His People, El Shaddai. Our children seem so innocent and so like babes in the woods, or perhaps we are all too aware of their weaknesses. Either way, we wish... oh, how we wish we could be there to intercede and protect them. The fact that we cannot is a fearful thing.

The green-ness of our young shoots used to concern me. As I listened to them I took in their stories and responses, their challenges and the big dreams they saw as solutions. At the same time, I watched and listened with eyes and ears that "knew better". Their naivete was clear to me, and brought remembrances to my mind of similar days years ago when I too was such an idealist. Initially, I fretted in advance for the days ahead when they would run up against life's realities and have their dear hopes dashed. How I wished to spare them, to safeguard my treasures.

How upside down were my heart and mind!

It is true. Fathers and Mothers, you are sending your lambs among wolves. Look around and see. It is as the Lord foretold. *Mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them.

They are the kind who worm their way into homes and gain control over weak-willed women, who are loaded down with sins and are swayed by all kinds of evil desires, always learning but never able to acknowledge the truth. Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so also these men oppose the truth—men of depraved minds, who, as far as the faith is concerned, are rejected.

This is the deceptive world we are releasing our own into. It is good for you to know this, and it is better for you to respond on bended knees interceding for them. But Christ is the Victor! And the brave hearts and minds, the teachings of Truth you have poured into them, the equipping you have bestowed upon them, all these will serve as weapons for them against the enemy. Place your faith and confidence in the work He has been doing through you and in them, His Treasures, for the day has come for them to be tried and tested.

**But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

Your children will face the opposition, but the trying and testing of their faith will be done in the Lord's crucible. Hear His words of response to the realities around us, and may they be your prayer for your young ones, and may their visionary inspiration be His breath.

* II Timothy 2:1-8

** II Timothy 2:14-17

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Celebrating The Day of Q's Birth!

It probably won't surprise anyone to hear that I am not really into celebrations. At least, not the kind that entail a great deal of planning and frill and fuss. In part it is probably because I am a bit lazy, no doubt, but I hope no one would call me a Scrooge. Primarily, it stems from my very heartfelt attempts to adhere to the call in Matthew - and yes, it even applies to birthdays. *"Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."

What I am into is celebrating the gift of Life on birth days! And my treasure is found with my heart, which is found in Thailand today with my oldest son. When he came into our lives, I would repeatedly refer to him as a blessing, before I truly even understood what that word meant. He has always been so. I sit here now and start and stop and erase what I write, over and over, not satisfied with my attempts to put words to what is in my heart. I do not think it really is possible. How do I capture the pride that is mine to know that this young man is my son? What words are there for my appreciation of the gift he has given me in sharing his vulnerabilities, struggles, failures, and successes? Who knows the joy it is to trust your child all through his years? He has always encouraged us with love, enlarged our assessments with wisdom, and assured us of his respect and esteem. The tears in my eyes as I consider all he is to us must stand as silent and deep testimony. I borrow Paul's words because they are our very own as well.

**Quentin, you yourself are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by everybody. You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on the tablet of your human heart. Such confidence as this is ours through Christ before God. Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God. He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant—not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.

Your father and I were the Lord's instruments to bring you into this world, and we will always be eternally grateful for the privilege to be called your's. Greater joy is our's as the Holy Spirit has bestowed upon you the sweetness of eternal life with Christ in all its generous abundance. Happy, Happy Birthday, Q! Our hearts rejoice over you this day!

* Matthew 6:18-21

**2 Corinthians 3:2-6

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Simple Wisdom

Well, we took on a big job today - two kids, four wisdom teeth apiece removed. They were real troopers.
L did tear up a bit afterwards - heightened emotionalism from the anesthesia. R was a regular chatterbox, rather like a drunken magpie. I just love my kids under the effects of laughing gas.

A is the one most affected by all of this, however. She has ever been my weak-stomached child. As the attendant was going over post-op care, she pulled on my arm, whispering to me, "I have to go." I directed her to the girls' room visible from where we sat. "No, I just have to go." I gave her permission to leave us and get a bit of distance while hanging out in the outer hallways, breathing air void of words like blood clots or a hint of deeper red on her sister's lips.

Once home I got everyone settled in, giving my unusually talkative son some visiting time, moving my unusually quiet daughter (who still characteristically craves companionship) into her brother's room so as to be near others, and positioned A with some science work in the lazy boy where she could keep an eye on our invalids. I was going to make a run to pick up the pain meds and a few flicks from Redbox. As I pulled away from the house I saw a neighbor girl had run up to the door and she and my own were visiting.

Surely she knows...the thought tapped at the edge of my mind and I dismissed it, deciding not to follow it up with a call home to make sure. When I'd been gone 10 minutes, my phone rang. It was my little Florence Nightingale.
"Luisa took her gauze out and is spitting up blood in a bowl."
"No, she should not be doing that," I evenly replied.
"Oh," and then ".... stop doing that," I hear in whispered panic.
"Alright honey, this is what I want you to do," I say with what I hope she takes as calming reassurance, "just hold the plastic bag out for her to drop her gauze into. Wet two little squares with water, fold them over twice so they are in quarters, and let her put them into the back corners of her mouth." Sure enough, as I suspected, the others were still in her mouth - and there was only a small amount of blood on a paper towel in a bowl when I returned home.

Poor dear A, she followed my instructions - complete with retching sounds I could hear over the speaker phone. Once done, I told her to have her sister go to the bathroom and wash her hands.
"Ok, there, it's all over" I soothed. "Now take a deep breath and offer thanks to God."
She could barely whisper, "yes ma'am."

When I returned, she and the neighbor girl were just coming down the stairs - inside the house. I excused our little friend, and then dealt with my own daughter. As I suspected, as soon as I'd gone round the corner she'd invited said friend in to visit. Never mind the rule of no friends in the house without permission when parents are gone. She figured that her laid-up big brother was her green light, although she never asked him either. Mind you, I know my child, and I don't think her disobedience was intentional. She simply does things when she is left in charge that seem right to her, but does not necessarily make that mental check I require of whomever I have left in charge - namely me. If she did, the choice would be simple and different.

She wanted to apologize and have it over quickly, but of course I needed her to understand the root of the error of her ways. Otherwise we will have a repeat. Heck! This is a repeat, but we continue to work on it. And equally obvious should be the fact that this created a battle with stubborn-ness as her intention to have this over and done quickly was not what was happening. We had to go a few rounds, she even tried to point out that in the end it all worked out for good because her friend was there to help her with the difficult job of caring for her siblings. Please.... I started to get a clearer idea of how we so quickly came to spitting up blood in a bowl, etc. I was an imaginative girl capable of melodrama too, once. Drama seems to multiply by the number of girls in a room.

Despite her delicate constitution, I left her in charge so that she would die to self (although I gave the bloodier duty to her healing sister, I knew this would still test the older) and serve as I'd entrusted her. My disappointment connected with Ezekial.

Instead of carrying out your duty in regard to my holy things, you put others in charge of my sanctuary. Ezekial 44:8

In the end I believe we got a bit closer to an understanding that I seek her to know and own and walk in naturally.

The day began with wisdom tooth extractions. Yet all day long, each and every day, we work on wisdom implantings. As we train up our children, it is not simply for the sake of our own right relationships with them that we do so. It is as the daily working of tending a garden plot of discipline whereby they may know better how to relate to the One who longs for them to know Him as Father. Amen.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Veni, Vidi, Vici - Even On Mother's Day

This past weekend was Mother's Day, but my Love was celebrating me for days before. I received a gorgeous bouquet of flowers that had me marveling, as flowers always do, at the breathtaking creativity of our Creator. The next day I was given an adorable bag with Clinique essentials for keeping my complexion looking its loveliest. Almost 30 years ago, I remember being at a Mary Kay party and being told that for every night you did not wash your face before bed, you added a week's worth of aging to your skin. I've always wished I could do a side-by-side face comparison on myself to test this assertion - however, being as I only have one face to work with I have erred on the side of caution.

Two nights before Mother's Day, before I headed for bed my darling gave me a gift card to Coldwater Creek with instructions that I should go shopping and come back with some new and much-needed duds. I am grateful for such practical and sweet gifts, and Coldwater Creek is one of those rare places where I find they make clothes that fit me - women, you know this challenge....

The thing is, besides the obvious physical challenges that face most of us trying on clothes, I have another very real difficulty in spending on myself. I am cheap. My Decent Prices for Clothing Meter is stuck in the sales racks of the early 1980's. A shirt should cost no more than $18, pants no more than $28. Shoes should always be quality, but gotten at a steal. This presents two challenges. One, I no longer have the freedom to scour sales like I used to do; and two, the prices have pretty much tripled since then (or more!)

I love the casual, classic softness of Anthropologie, Boden, and J. Jill. I would have a closet overflowing with their outfits if money were no object. The fact is - it is - and I cannot usually afford even their sale items.

I hold to this belief: I seriously do not believe people should pay that much for clothes. I mean, this adorable little casual number our model is wearing will run you over $300 for purse, sandals, leggings, and tunic. Yowza...... oh, how I wish it were hanging in my closet. It's me.....

Snap out of it!

Update: Veni, vidi, vici
Translation for those of you rusty on your Ceasar: I came, I saw, I conquered.

As it turned out, there was a 35% off sale at Coldwater Creek, plus they had a buy 2 get 1 free sale on cropped pants. I walked out with four pair of crops for under $120. Pretty darn close to my 1980's standards!

Bravo! Quanto Bellisimo!