Friday, May 27, 2011

Bring lunch and walk gingerly

A happy mom and a handsome ginger
Apparently my reputation proceeds me. When it comes to my orange hair, freckle-face 14 year old, he has heard the stories of about me embarrassing his brothers intentionally and on accident. 

Since our summer vacation has officially begun, I'm recalling this one particular Friday during eighth grade. Honestly all I was trying to do was be nice. Is that such a big problem? Zheesh.

I bought a pepperoni pizza roll from Great Harvest Bread Company. They are so good! Like a dutiful mother, I drove it still warm to the school. It was near lunch hour and I wanted my Ike to have something to eat. I promised I'd drop it off for him.

Peeking my head through the glass window on the door, I observed an orange hair, freckle face 14 year old boy. I recognized the child as one of my bairn and with the turn of the knob, I entered the classroom. This is an acceptable thing to do at our OS's school, I didn't break any regulations, except for the one Isaac had in his mind.
pepperoni rolls are really delish
and they kinda, sorta look like footballs

Instead of merely handing the pepperoni roll to him, which seemed rather dreary, I pretended I was a quarterback. The pepperoni roll was shaped like a football and it didn't seem like any big deal. With exaggerated, slow-action motion, I simulated a deep pass to my boy. The pepperoni roll remained in my hand. It didn't go flying. All the kids laughed as Isaac sprang out of his chair for the interception. We hugged, I'm fairly sure I kissed him, closed the door behind me and enjoyed the rest of my day.

But what I learned later is that Ike was aghast at my shenanigans. Especially when one of his buddies said, "Did your mom really just come into class pretending to throw you a pepperoni roll while the teacher was praying?" "Um, yeah," was my boy's reply.

I guess in my haste, I hadn't noticed that Mr. A was praying. I didn't observe the subtle clues such as silence and head bowing. Oops.

All sorts of fish stories in our family!
Do you know how many times Ike has retold this story? It's sure to be one of the legends of the W-H family. Each time he recounts this moment, it grows like a fish story.

Which has me you have similar MOMents? 

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Wednesday remix - magical mistakes in motherhood

It's hard to believe I wrote this 11 years ago. This post is still true today though my OS are 21, 16 and 14. Hope you enjoy and can relate.

Your day will come. It's sooner than you think.

This picture courtesy of my beautiful cousin Emma!
One day you'll think you're the most awesome in the world. You'll be perfectly puffed up reveling in your parental accomplishments, feeling as if you alone have the key to every motherly dilemma. You'll wonder what all those other poor moms in the world are doing. No one compares to you. You're amazingly awesome and your child is soooooooo lucky to have you as a mommy, your head can barely fit through the front door. Go on w/ur bad self.

That's when it will hit. Don't be surprised. In fact, enjoy the time when you join the rest of the real world and realize you are going to do dumb things as a mother.

Where should I begin? I'm certain my motherly pride was shot down pretty early. I can't remember the exact moment but it's gone.

But I must admit I'm enjoying it. Should I tell you about the time I almost totally embarrassed Nathaniel in first grade? I thought it was Nursery Rhyme Dress Up Day and asked him if he wanted to participate. He vehemently said no and thank goodness he did because it turns out I had the wrong day! My poor boy would have been the only child walking around as Humpty Dumpty in the entire school!

Dare I admire the time I went grocery shopping. Aaron was carefully sitting on the bottom of the grocery cart when I felt an unusual pull as I was going down the aisle. Thinking it was just a piece of junk on the floor, I pushed the cart over the stubborn bump on the ground. Moments later I stopped and paused only to hear seconds later, Aaron's painful cries. I had run over my child's finger and had drug that poor fingernail down the grocery aisle! Half of the nail had been ripped off as we ran into the Lowe's bathroom seeking medical attention.

Then, later on, it got infected and we thought he might never have a nail on that finger again, even as a full-grown adult. (He's got one now, praise God!)

"Hi, I'm Nate and my mom embarrasses me!"
Do you want to hear another one? In second grade, I insisted Nate wear this new soccer outfit I had bought him. It looked like a sweat pants outfit but apparently not to all his classmates. He told me the minute he walked into class they all burst into laughter because he looked like he was wearing pajamas.

I'm not alone...I'm in good company. My neighbor slammed the car door on  her daughter's hand (accidentally, I might add!). My own mother once wore a pair of jeans inside out to the grocery store...hmm, maybe it's genetic! ;)
"Hi, I'm Aaron and I'm lucky to have a nailbed!"

As if I needed reminding, mothering is very taxing. We put our all in it and still we make mistakes, right? But that's where mercy, humor and grace come in. If you haven't had your day and you're still in denial, welcome to that special moment when you become like the rest of us. A regular human mommy, flawed and forgetful. Loving and loved. Blemished and blessed. Just the way God made us.

If we could extend to ourselves the same mercy the Lord gives us! Try it next time you blow it and then enjoy the peace that passes understanding. May we all giggle and smile at the ways we show our humanness to our family and they love us anyway. May we extend the same grace to our loved ones when they flub up. And may your journeys as a parent humble and humor you every day!

Don't leave me hanging! Tell me about an epic mama fail!

Monday, May 23, 2011

And the winner is...

Ashley was sincerely excited when I told her the news! Here's what she picked. Yay!
"I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well."

I wasn't sure if I should do a give-away. Particularly with the "prize" being something I made. What if no one commented on my post or fb? 

Talk about petty worries. Seriously. But my feeble mind easily goes "there." That insidious place of doubt, shame and exposure. It's raw, vulnerable and oh so real. My orange hair, freckle-face OS does this (not about a blog but about a brother) and it's a sure-fire sign he's heading for trouble.

When his sentence starts with, "Well, Aaron..." Ike is cruising for a bruising. Whatever proceeds those two words spells problems for my 14 year old. Even with a verbal caution from a parent, he is so resolute on seeing injustice and unfairly judging a situation, Ike can't see things clearly. 

His mama has the same problem...and not just with a silly blog either. Those thoughts which cause my spirit to be as thin as an onion skin, they are not from someone who loves me. They are from the Prince of Lies, the Enemy, Satan. He wants me to feel defeated and despondent about everything.

But he's wrong. He's a jerk and he wants to invade every aspect of my life. But he can't because I'm
"For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world.
And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith."

He doesn't have the final word on my life. 

And so I must remember this... I am a

"For you are all children of light, children of the day.
We are not of the night or of the darkness."
"For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily,
 you have been filled in him, who is the head of all rule and authority."
Through none of my efforts or talents but only because of the Lord's grace, I am furthermore...
"There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus."
Thanks to everyone for participating! It meant a lot to me! Encouraging words bless me. Also, thanks to God for His ageless reminders and timeless truth!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Wednesday remix - the awesome sound of "Mom"

I wrote this for a MOPS newsletter 10 years ago. Hope you enjoy!
Also, there is still time to enter my first give-away. Just comment on this post or this one and you'll be entered to win!

I look out the window and in the midst of barren trees and gray roads, I see two figures heading my way. Backpacks loaded with homework, books, notes from teachers; these two little people; one with a FSU baseball cap, the other with a stick in his hand turn onto my street. They head up my driveway, they open my door and they cheerfully say, "Hi, Mom!"

Nate and sister Denise at an FSU game!
This is how I often experience the world around 2:30 PM Monday through Friday. You'd think I'd be used to my boys calling me "Mom," after all, I've been one almost for 11 years. But it still blows me away. I'm still overwhelmed each time my boys put their arms around me, then reluctantly give or receive a kiss. They utter the short mono-syllabic word "Mom" while actually looking at me and I melt like butter.

How'd it happen? The crazy college days, the year in France, they are ancient memories for me. How did it happen that the Lord chose me to be a parent? Surely He's observed my foolishness. In fact, God could write a book about all the regrettable things I have done. However, in my book of life, the Lord has chosen to erase my mistakes and forgive my sins. In their place, God has filled those pages with infinite memories of these extraordinary creations.
working it in France circa 1982

In His mercy and compassion, He gave me the three greatest sons I could have ever possibly imagined! The big belly housing their tiny lives is gone but they, my boys have remained. Amazing! 

There's a lot of orange going on up in hur!
And as if that weren't enough, all I have to do is glance at Isaac's red hair and my mouth wants to drop open. I never expected a redhead, what a blessing. When God made Isaac, He gave me a delightful surprise and a nifty conversation piece. I can't tell you how many people have asked us how Ike got that copper mop on his head. 

I'm their mom. I helped create them. The Lord has loaned them to my husband and me with big expectations of leading our sons to love Him. How cool and incredible is that? And in addition, for a season, the Lord has allowed me the honor of sharing these experiences with you. 

I realize that some of you who read this can only dream of the day when your baby with her/his own lips speaks the sweet pronoun "Mommy" while in your arms. Those long, sleepless nights, the ear infections, teething, temper tantrums can be so exhausting but it's all worth it when you hear that little voice acknowledge you as Mother.
one of their favorite past-times = fishing
The lovely melody of this small word is such a treasure and a gift. Whether your child is cooing and crawling or chatting all the way to pre-school, it's true, you are a mother. Press that unbelievable title upon your heart and give thanks.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

A Gift to Me, A Gift to You - give away!

He took me by the hand and escorted me to the garage. Tentatively I placed one foot after the other, trusting that whatever I would soon behold was worth the risk. We traipsed through the laundry room, a rather treacherous endeavor and descended a few steps at the entrance of the garage. No bone had been broken, so far so good.

"Open your eyes, Mama," Aaron granted my eyes permission to do one of their primary jobs. Three plants stood before me, bursting forth with blossoms.
"I drive past this garden store every day while going to school and I knew I wanted to buy your Mother's Day present from there. After I finished mowing a lawn today, I went there and got you these."
I was reminded of the cubic zirconia earrings Aaron gave me one Christmas when he was a little boy. Oh, how he beamed with pride as he handed me the little box. Upon opening the gift, I observed two absolutely HUGE cubic zirconia earrings with an equally flashy matching pendant. Where does a middle class mama wear such bling? Many years later, I still do not know but should I ever need to make a VERY bold statement, those baubles will be put to good use.
Thankfully, Aaron's tastes have matured. Here is proof...
The three gifts my middle OS gave me!
Do you know what the plant is called? Tell me in the comment section of my blog
and I'll enter your name into my giveaway TWICE! 
another rather exotic flower with orange flowers (neither of us remember the name)
I love any shade of purple therefore I love these!
and petunias and fan flowers

When my middle OS approached the clerk at the garden store, he announced he was buying some plants for his mother. The lady was so touched by his kindness, she added additional flowers into the planter.
She was not the only one to react to my son's inquiry. Apparently a rather corpulent young lady also overheard Aaron's conversation and began following my OS around the store perimeter. Creepy.
What I love about Aaron's efforts is the sincerity of his quest. I love that he did not choose the fancy garden store just down the road, instead he sought the simple, understated establishment. I have also driven by this store and nary given it a second thought. He blessed me and the garden store owner with equal measure. A generosity of heart is one of Aaron's most lovely qualities.
The rain has been gushing for days. I look at my plants in the garden through the large windows in our family room. They are verdant and sturdy, confident and acclimating well to their new environs. I'm in awe at how well they fit into the landscape. I can't help but think of my boy with each glance at my astilbe and its companion flower. It's as if they want to blossom with pride at being selected by Aaron and they want to do their job to the best of their ability.
If plants had feelings, and some posit that they do, I would have to say Aaron's selections are utterly joyous in their new home. It's as if they blossom with pride at being selected by Aaron and they want to do their job to the best of their ability.
Here are several examples of the miniature pillows I create. They are sweet on a window
sill or placed anywhere someone could use a word of encouragement. 
I've been sharing about the gifts I received for Mother's Day. Now it's your turn to share. What is the best Mother's Day gift you have given or received? I'd love to know! 
I thought it would be fun to offer my first giveaway. Write a comment on my facebook about this post or write it directly this blog and you'll be entered to win a free homemade encouragement pillow. Also, if you answer the question in my post about the type of flower Aaron gave me, I'll enter your name twice. We can't remember the name of it so maybe you can help us figure it out. Deadline will be Friday, May 20 at 5pm EST. 

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Wednesday remix - ponderings of a young boy about 9/11

Starting this week, each Wednesday, I'm going to try and post a message I wrote years ago when my OS were much younger. I shall call this "segment" Wednesday remix as I share with you previous mothering experiences. I'm excited about doing this as it will cause me to reflect on tender moments I'm apt to forget. 

Here's my first Wednesday Remix!

In light of the recent news about the death of Osama bin Laden, I have decided to share this with you as it was published in the July 2002 issue of P31, a ministry of Proverbs 31

In the 12 years I have been a mother, I have learned parenting is not easy. I've learned that kids often like to discuss difficult subjects out in public or when I'm driving a car. I've learned that little minds think about tough subjects. This has become clearer to me since the events of the last year have given my youngest son, Isaac, much to ponder.

It all began on a seemingly innocent trip to Wal-Mart. As we approached the entrance someone caught Isaac's attention. A dark-skinned man exited the store and walked near us when Isaac asked, "Is that Osama bin Laden?" So many times my children have surprised me with their spontaneous questions. Hoping that this man hadn't heard the question, I varied between wanting to burst into laughter and erupt into tears. Isaac's question jolted me like an electric shock.

Part of me wanted to quip, "Um, Isaac, I don't think he shops at our local Wal-Mart and uh, Isaac, if he does, forget the crackers, let's get out of here!" But instead I assured him that the mild man in slacks was not Osama bin Laden.

But he wasn't finished. About a week later I was putting on makeup and Isaac entered the bathroom. Without any warning or prompting, Isaac wanted to know what we would have done if we had been in "that" building. He wondered whether we would have been hurt. He recalled seeing an image of a woman with a bloody bandage on her head running from the big building. I gently reassured him that we would have been ok.

The grocery store was the most recent location for Isaac's curious mind to activate. But before we even approached the door, out in the parking lot, Isaac asked me the most intense question I think anyone has ever asked me. "Does Osama bin Laden believe in God?" he inquired. 

So how does a mother answer that question?

Just so you know, we don't have the television on all day and I can't remember the last time I talked about the war before bedtime. He's your typical boy who likes horses and dinosaurs. He plays soccer and is building a fort in the backyard with his middle brother. We have "snuggle parties" in the middle of the night when he crawls into our bed.

The best response that I could come up with in the milliseconds available was that Osama bin Laden might think he believed in God but he didn't know Jesus. Isaac is a little young for a Christan apologetics class and I'm unsuited to be training him in the differences between Islam and Christianity. I felt fairly confident that Osama bin Laden had probably heard of Jesus but that he did not know Him personally.

With each one of Isaac's questions I feel so privileged to be his mother. If I weren't there, who would hear the stirrings of his heart? If I were too busy or disinterested, what would Isaac do with the adult-sized musings occurring in his pre-K brain? Whose hand would he have been holding when he thought he saw one of the world's most evil men? If I weren't available for his questions, who would listen? What kind of answers would he receive?

With each question pouring from his soul, Isaac gives me the rock-solid response. One of the most important jobs I will ever have is raising my kids. The biggest assignment I'll ever be given is to teach and show my sons the love of Christ and to instruct them in righteousness. In Proverbs 7:1-4 we are reminded to keep God's words with us at all times.

We are urged to impress God's commandments upon our children in Deuteronomy 6:7. Before our feet even hit the floor, our Heavenly Father desires to be on our minds and in our hearts. There are no provisions in the Bible as to when we get a break. When my orange-haired boy with soft cherry lips asks me to discuss even I must be ready to discuss the greatness of God. I need to look for open windows into his soul. God doesn't mention the car or mall or store as being places where I can slack off as a mom.

I've got to show Isaac in my actions and words how to seek the face of Almighty God, Creator and Sustainer in times of trouble and tumult. To counter the attacks on my son's spirit, I'm required to instill in him the security of believing in Jesus, the just and awesome One who triumphed over sin and death.

I wish my son's innocent had not been interrupted by the events of September 11th. The rubble that has cluttered my precious boy's mind needs to be replaces with peace and beauty. The provocative questions asked by my son make my resolve to be a good mother even stronger. Crackers and cold cuts, makeup and mealtime, sunrise and sunset, Lord, please keep me ready.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Do you remember Sunday?

flag flying at West Point
On a peaceful Sunday night, quietude filled the home and this mama lounged in her pajamas with the Hubs and her mom. The middle OS Aaron and orange haired, freckle face Isaac were asleep; the kitchen was clean, the dehydrator was going strong as usual. 

We were watching a television show I refuse to mention for fear that you would think less of me (!) and suddenly there was a major news announcement.

that dehydrator doesn't stop dehydrating for nothin'!
I wondered if there was a severe weather warning. A round of deadly tornadoes has swept our state but the interruption wasn't from our local tv affiliate, it was from the national news network. The President was going to address the country imminently. What was so important that he had to talk to us so close to most people's bedtime? Why couldn't it have waited until the morning? Oh Jesus, what are we going to learn?

The three of us remained glued to the flat screen. As we waited, I googled, hoping to get advanced information that would either confirm or deny my worst thoughts. That was to no avail. Were we announcing another war? Did someone super duper important in the administration die? Was there another terrorist attack?

nation's capital
My spirit felt trapped and my feet unsteady. I wondered about the rest of my family. Would I ever see them again? What about my boy? My Soldier? Surely this news was going to effect him! Something was going to change and there was nothing I could do about it.

Then President Obama appeared on our tv screen. He approached the microphone and gave us the news that Osama bin Laden had been killed. Although I wasn't sure what was going to happen next in our country, I knew what we could expect. The phone rang. It was our boy.

"Did you hear the news?" Nate inquired. "Everyone's going crazy over here, celebrating. We're pretty pumped."

What else should you expect at West Point? Of course they were ecstatic and rightly so! These cadets are willing to sacrifice their lives for our country and safety, they should rejoice! Hearing Nate's voice reassured me. Of all the places to be on this Sunday night, Nate was at a place of historic significance, an institution (albeit imperfect) but nonetheless a place where honor, duty and country mean something.

Lord willing, one day my OS will be able to tell his children and his grandchildren about this moment. He will never forget the time when he and his fellow cadets rejoiced over the news that the sickening mastermind of terrorist attacks on US soil was eliminated from existence. While I sat in my cotton pajamas with my family, my precious child Nate was amidst people willing to die to defend  our way of life. Among the most epic of all places to be when this man was killed would be at a military academy. Osama bin Laden was found just yards away from Pakistan's equivalent of West Point.

In only one year, Nate will be graduating from West Point and most likely going to a place of international conflict. I'm not ready to go there yet emotionally and he's not ready to go there geographically but we'll need to gear up fairly soon. The Lord has not prepared me for this yet, I'm taking it day by day, not trying to borrow trouble.  

This is the motto of USMA Class of 2012 - I love it
I'm not naive enough to think that all of our world's problems ended on Sunday when that man was felled but y'all, I'm glad, really glad he's gone. 
My sugar boy and me during a recent trip to West Point

For my next post, I'm going to share a story I wrote nine years ago about something Isaac asked me after September 11th.