Wednesday, February 22, 2017
It was a delightful hour, for the most part.
Except that period in the middle where I was the uncool mom on the playground.
Now, being uncool doesn't bother me. In fact, I have spent the majority of my 33 years being "uncool," and that suits me just fine.
My kids generally think I'm pretty cool though, especially on the playground. If I don't have an adult companion around, I find myself up and wandering the play area, pushing kids on swings, following them up and down steps, helping them on monkey bars, chasing them, climbing up the ladders, and so forth. The kids appreciate that about me.
Most of the time.
Then, there's days like today, where there are moments in the middle where my oldest asks "why are you over here watching us?"
"Because I like to be with you," is what I said. It is truth.
However, today I had another reason.
I was sitting on the picnic table seat for a moment before then, sipping on my cooling coffee, when I heard someone yell "I'm gonna slice your head off!"
I looked over, and there was a taller boy chasing my oldest, hands in the air in front of him, pretending to be a zombie.
We don't do zombies.
Aside from the fact that my youngest two had nightmares the night they went to the zombie walk, and periodically since then, my middle son has asked "mom, are zombies real" as we drive to daycare, following with me saying "No, buddy, they're not real," and then "Okay, they're scary," I don't see the purpose.
Now, I know people will wildly disagree with me on this topic. Popular culture dictates that zombies are fun, entertaining, imaginative, and so forth.
But I don't see the value in them. I have a six-year-old, a four-year-old, and an almost three-year-old. I know we can't escape this zombie culture, but they seem so young to have knowledge of it already. Call me old fashioned, call me a prude, call me whatever you want, but I prefer my children to have wholesome, positive imaginative play.
That, and to be quite candid, zombie apocalypse play and zombie-slashing fun go against the God-centered child-rearing I am attempting to live out.
I know that some people, again, may argue "well there are zombies in the Bible." Okay, so maybe I can see where you're coming from there. Except I disagree, and instead of forming my own argument against that, I'll link you up with one that fits my viewpoints and leave it at that.
So, I hear this child threatening, though pretending of course, to slash my kindergartner's head off, while his younger brother and sister are two feet behind him. My four-year-old yells "NOOOO! Don't KILL HIM! He's my BROTHER!" He knows, I assume, that it's pretend, but I also know that he's still working to decipher reality from make-believe on a regular basis. (See above about whether zombies are real, and add in "Do ghosts exist? Do werewolves exist? Do unicorns exist?" and so forth.)
My youngest is yelling "That's not kind!"
We have been working on our family identity recently, and our is "we are kind." We talk about it daily. We pray that God will help us be good friends, to bring people joy, to show people love, to not hurt people, to not cause people to cry.
I approached my oldest, and I said, "Buddy, we don't play zombies, do we?"
Knowing full well all these other children (roughly 8 of them) are running around pretending to kill and eat each other, and they have taken notice to the fact that I pulled my child aside, I said, "Because it's not kind. We are kind, aren't we?"
"Yes. I love to be kind!" he replied. "But it's pretend."
"But it's violent, and it goes against what Jesus asks us to do. It goes against what God wants for us to be. It goes against the Bible."
He looked at me, with his "Play Hard, Pray Hard" t-shirt on, a shirt he chose himself to wear to the park, and shook his head. "Okay, mom."
Then, came the sly kids shouting "Well, raise your hands if you're playing zombie apocalypse!"
He wanted so badly to raise his hand. I raised my eyebrows, and he kept his hand down.
"I love you, buddy."
"I love you, too, mom."
And then he ran off to play alongside the other kids. He slipped up once and pretended to shoot someone as they ran by.
"Why are you over here watching us?"
I wanted to say 'to hold you accountable and make sure you're making good choices,' but instead, I gave the answer above and let him decide what choices to make on his own.
I was proud. He didn't play zombies after.
I played alongside, hearing them laugh, seeing them smile, and looking when they'd call "Mom! Watch this!" as best as I could with all three trying to show me things at once.
The older boy ran by again, and pretended to spit on my children.
"What are you doing?" I asked him calmly.
"Spitting poisonous venom."
"We already talked about this. My children don't play zombies. You may stop now."
He ran off. I know he snickered and the others looked at me.
I didn't care if I was uncool.
I felt a little guilty that I may have made my kids seem like they were "uncool" to the other kids, but really, if being kind and playing wholesome, positive, laughter-filled play on a playground, without dark, violent themes is uncool, then they can be uncool.
They're only little once. Some day, I won't be on the playground with them. I am not always on the playground with them now, and I don't intend to be breathing down their necks at this age either. Sometimes, I'm right there though, and I believe it is my job as their God-focused mother to intervene in situations like this, to teach them Bible-centered morals and practices as best as I can.
I will pray that when it comes time to decide if they're going to join in with the make-believe bloody murder and flesh-eating attacks with their peers, they will choose our God-focused morals and remember why, right now, we are kind and we do no do zombies. I will hope and pray.
I can't control what other parents do, and their rules on zombie play or murder themed make-believe. My children even asked why the other kids play that way, and I said "their families don't have the same rules as I do." It's as simple as that.
But I do hope that if you're one who allows that sort of play, you perhaps talk to your children about playing it on playgrounds, especially those with young children and toddlers, who don't need to be and/or whose parents do not want them to be subject to such dark and gruesome themes. If that's something you allow (although I wish it wasn't), I hope that you could request your children save it for private locations, like their homes or friends homes.
Personally, I have no taste for any sort of zombie entertainment. I know tons of my friends do. That's their choice. But I choose to not have that in my own home.
I'm not a "helicopter" parent and I don't intend to be. But, I do believe that young children, mine specifically, should be allowed to enjoy positive themed play as long as possible before popular culture and dark themes of the world become more prevalent with age and their peers.
For tonight, I will pray that the themes and impressions from the pretend slashing, decapitation, and cannibalism at the playground will not leave lasting impressions on their hearts or infiltrate their dreams. We will pray again, as we do every night, that Jesus fills them with peace, joy, and good things.
Sunday, February 19, 2017
On my right wrist, I have a simple tattoo that reads "I love you" in my grandmother's handwriting. In fact, multiple female family members have similar handwriting tattoos on their wrists or clavicles. We all went together and had a tattoo party when they heard of my idea and fell in love with it themselves.
My left wrist, though, all I wanted was an anchor.
When I was younger, I would have never suspected I would adore the image of an anchor as I do now. I thought of them simply in terms of sailing and pirates and such.
But then, my faith was tested. I guess that's a silly statement, because throughout one's life, faith is continually tested. I'm no different in that regard, and I have had many tests under my belt, each time, my faith in God remaining. From time to time, I may have distanced myself, but He's always been there.
But recently, over the last few years, my faith has been tested in ways I never dreamed of. From finding out my former husband was cheating on me with men and women alike, to threatened homelessness while I had no job and three children ages six months to four years old, to living in a homeless shelter and transitional housing, to being abandoned financially and emotionally, to filing for divorce... to self-sufficiency (for the most part, with occasional blessings from trusted family and friends) and single parenting in a God focused home, I've done nearly a complete 180 degree turn around in my life, and all the while, my God has remained, pulling me through, guiding me, walking beside me, carrying me, fighting for me, and calming me.
Hope is an anchor. What a beautiful image. In all that life throws at us, this hope keeps us steady.
What is this hope?
God is this hope.
But so does music. Many know that God speaks to me often through music. I will hear a song a hundred times, and on the 101st time, it speaks in a new way, or I hear a lyric I had never heard before. Many songs that resonate with me deeply talk of God as an anchor for us, or his hope as an anchor for us, or him carrying us through storms.
Wednesday, February 1, 2017
It was barely past midnight this morning when I felt the ground give way beneath my feet and the air I tried to breathe suffocate my airways as I heaved violent sobs in the dark of the night. Up until this point, she had always been there as a pillar and a safe place.
It was so early this morning, a horrible ending to one day and the devastating beginning of another.
It was ten years ago.
It feels like this morning.
It feels like a lifetime ago.
She waited until we all left and she breathed her final breath, and in the quiet of her hospital room, my grandma passed away.
I miss her still, every single day.
The ground has given way a few times since then, and still she is gone. Her arms aren't waiting for me in a loving embrace. Her ear isn't there to listen when I cry.
But she didn't leave me completely:
The prayers she must have prayed unceasingly have come to fruition, as I have God at my side, and Godly people in my life who can help stand in where she used to be.
I wonder though. I can't help but wonder.
Would she be proud? Would she think I'm extraordinary? Would she think I'm brave? Would she think I exhibit grace?
Somehow she's gone and her opinion still matters.
So much has happened in the 10 years since she was laid in the freezing cold ground as I crumbled in the wind. The ground is frozen again. But in a weird way, as I sit here missing her so, I feel comfort knowing she's safe inside the very ground I stand on, while residing up in the heavenlies with the Jesus she loved so much. Her love is written permanently on my wrist, her ring on my finger, her voice in my head, and her warm brown eyes staring up at me through my beautiful young daughter.
I ache. I pine. I cry. But I find rest, I find peace, finally, ten years later, realizing she's still so close by.
Sunday, January 8, 2017
Recently, there's been a change brewing in the life of me and my children. Something unexpected happened, and as a result, I had to make some decisions I wasn't mentally prepared to make.
I prayed about it for days. I took a break from social media and filled the time I would have spent catching up with friends online praying and seeking wisdom as to how to proceed. I sought advice from trusted companions, and found confusion in doing so, with divided opinions and advice coming from multiple avenues, so I kept on praying about that as well.
After about a week, I had what I decided was the next step, and proceeded with cautious bravery.
I'm not sure that's a thing. If you google "cautious bravery," you find a few different takes on it. On one hand, people seem to think you can't be both cautious and brave or courageous, and then on the other, it only makes sense to do so.
As I mentioned, I took my options, prayed about them, tried to imagine probable outcomes, and went with what I thought God was calling me to do.
I was afraid of being wrong, afraid of interpreting what I thought God was telling me wrong, and afraid that even if I was doing what was right, it could all go wrong anyway. But, I owned the decision, and I stepped forward on faith.
I decided, in doing so, that if I was going to just assume it would all go awry, I was speaking words of death over the decision, and also placing my faith, trust, and hope in humanity instead of God's divine sovereignty. I decided to anchor myself on hope and God's ultimate goodness, and I committed myself to continued prayer, because I know that human emotion can be wishy-washy sometimes, and I knew myself well enough to be able to foresee that I wouldn't always be completely hopeful, and the old patterns of condemning thoughts and negative assumptions would slither into my mindset occasionally.
I told myself that even though the decisions I make affect more than just myself, and that all people are infallible, God can use everything and anything that would come from it for His ultimate good. I know that while it is best and important that others in my life have God in their lives, all I needed to rely on was Him, and who I am in Him. I know who I am in Christ, and I believe I have a good idea who my children are in Christ, and that was enough to solidify my choice in proceeding.
Now, I acted on my decision, and so far, good things have come from it. I give each day to God, and when I start to fear and worry, if I turn to my closest confidants first instead of God, they remind me to give it to God.
It sounds silly, I know, and I've felt that it was silly on the multiple occasions that I have needed to conduct warfare in such a way.
I continued on, praying audibly, "I feel like I can't see you Jesus, and I don't know why. I know You're always there."
I stopped singing almost instantly, and tears started falling.
"You can't see me, because I'm hugging you."
That's what I heard him say.
And it made so much sense. I was suddenly flooded with the image and feeling of a warm embrace, my head buried in His shoulder, as I heard him tell me that he was proud of me, that He has made me strong, brave, courageous, and that it is okay to be cautious. He knows that I worry sometimes and I fear other times, and He understands how sometimes I find it difficult to come to Him first, but He forgives me, accepts me, doesn't condemn me, and appreciates my honest attempts to keep Him first. I am okay, I am perfect. He told me that what decision I made recently didn't matter as much as the fact that I sought His counsel and waited earnestly before acting, choosing what I believed He was telling me to do over what the world told me to do. He reaffirmed that no matter what, because my hope is anchored in Him, it's going to be okay. He reminded me that He has been there through every peak and valley so far, and that He has ultimately won it all for us anyway. He reminded this little quiet warrior girl that she is filled with His peace and grace, and that good things will come from the trust I've placed in Him.
While I don't know what will come from my decisions and what is in store for us, I trust that it will all work out for God's good.
Sometimes, it's scary to not know His plan. Sometimes, I fear I don't know if I'm listening or hearing or interpreting correctly.
Sometimes, I just have to latch onto the cautious bravery he's formed within me.
Not oddly at all, the next song in worship was about sitting with Jesus, being with Him, hearing His heartbeat, and so forth. The pastor spoke how the Holy Spirit was heavy within the place. He spoke of God's gifts being imparted right then and there, and the sermon was about healing.
It made sense.
I've found freedom, healing, and seen myself through God's eyes this year. It's amazing what will happen when you give it to God.
Friday, January 6, 2017
That said, this evening, I had an experience that caught me off-guard.
It was a transitional experience, I think.
Tonight though, I don't know what really switched. Perhaps nothing really did, except that I really sat down and realized I had this friend, who had been there for quite some time, and she really did want to pursue my company and my friendship. She told me "I love your heart."
Immediately after, the enemy was on my back telling me that people couldn't really "love my heart," it was just something you say to be nice.