Monday, September 26, 2011

Marriage Monday---Pondering New Life, Treasuring Children

It's Marriage Monday! I'm so glad that autumn is here and we are writing on marriage again.  My apologies that I missed the first one earlier this month.  The topic was communication--and obviously I'm doing a great job communicating right now.  This month's topic is children. Last time we spoke of children here at MM, I wrote on our choice to home educate.  Today, I'm going to veer off the suggested paths and post something I've been writing for the last several weeks.

You may remember that my words for 2011 are PONDER and TREASURE. They are taken from Luke 2:19:
But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.
We've had much to ponder and treasure this year as we learned early in 2011 we would be moving to Ireland. German began work in March but we were unable to move until the end of June. Settling into a new culture and watching my children navigate these waters have given me many things to treasure, and to ponder.

*Every time Jewel tells me she has finished another book (she is a voracious reader) I treasure that I was the one who had the privilege to teach her to read.
 *As both girls embraced tennis camp this summer, just a week after we moved in, I pondered the differences in the ways they approached making friends---Jewel knew everyone's name but nothing about them; Flower concentrated more on one person.
*As they find their places in Sunday School, I treasure the insights their teachers give me into their personalities outside my presence.
*As Jewel struggles with what it means to follow Christ and encounters that tug-of-war between sin nature and desire to follow I ponder what future God is preparing for her.
*As Flower chatters about the missionary stories that they read with their Daddy, I store up the treasure that these little girls are learning that God leads people and they are learning that in the presence of their father who is teaching them that they are adored.

You see, I thought when I chose the words Ponder and Treasure I was choosing something to help me focus my year. But there is a bigger picture. I am learning that those words need to be the focus of my parenting. I need to treasure my children--wrapping up those moments of joy, of insight and even of difficulty and holding onto them. I need to allow those things that I treasure to penetrate and sit well in my spirit. They then will be the things that motivate and encourage me as a parent. If I don't take the time to ponder the questions they are asking or the experiences they are having, I may very well miss the very thing that God wishes to use to shape them into the adults of the future.

Pondering and treasuring have become a huge part of my evaluation of my parenting. And that would have made them perfect focus words for 2011. But, God had more in store when he chose those words for me at the beginning of the year. And we had no idea!

The true irony is that in January I would have told you I was storing up treasures of our new life this year. But I thought that was only a life in a new place. I never dreamed it would also mean a new life--one that as I sit here and type these words is emphatically kicking to remind me that he/she is most definitely here. Just like Mary, we are storing treasure of the new life that God has given to our family and who will make his/her appearance in a few more weeks!

We have taken time to treasure the blessings that God has given us. Often I have thought about blogging something that happened, but instead felt the need to choose a path of private treasuring for the time. And it has been good for our family. I have treasured watching the girls telling others they are going to be big sisters. I've smiled as they have related how they have prayed "forever" for a baby brother, and quietly helped them ponder the reality it might be a baby sister. We've treasured the joy and excitement of others as they have celebrated with us. Now, as we enter the final few weeks I am beginning to ponder the changes that will come. How do we help them transition to their new roles? What will the new dynamics of relationships be like? Will we still travel with a newborn and do I remember how to do that?

I'm not sure what all the answers are.

But I know that we will be treasuring the changes as we ponder the newness.

What have your children done this week that you are treasuring? It doesn't matter how young or old they are, don't forget to treasure them!

Join the other amazing ladies that write for Marriage Monday at today!

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Going Places (again)

This is a re-post of a contest entry I wrote in June 2008.  The sentiments are just as true today.  Yesterday, this dear niece phoned me as she had a short layover in Ireland.  She was on her way to her first deployment and just wanted to touch base.

Praying for you sweetheart.  Know that we are so proud of you. It seems like just yesterday we were helping your mom and dad protect you from the difficulties of the world. Today you take the next step in protecting us.  God bless you and keep you.


Dear A~

I sit here remembering the second time we were together. (The first time doesn't count because you were on your best behavior brought on by whatever threats your mom and dad came up with that day). You were so angry. Angry at me for coming into "Uncle German's" life and in your eight year old eyes, that was usurping your place. You could not begin to understand that Uncle German had already made it clear that you and your brother and sister were of utmost importance to him, and I must like you. You could not fathom how I could have started to love you long before I ever met you. You only saw me as an interloper and took every opportunity to lash out at me. Perhaps it was all my fault in your mind--after all you wouldn't have been moving from your home if Uncle German hadn't married me, moved to Birmingham and transferred your daddy to come work for him. At any rate, on this second meeting, you were not happy about going places at all. We were there to help your mom and dad paint the house to get it ready to sell. There in your little girl shoes, you stamped your feet and made it clear that going places was not what you wanted to do.

Who would have thought that it was just the beginning of the places you would go?

Fast forward four years. We were all going places again. This time to England. This move you were happy to make. In fact, you and your brother conspired to come earlier than your mom and sister. This time, instead of the bad guy, I got to be the solution. I could be at the hotel with you between school and your dad finishing work. You looked so grown up in your public school uniform! You hated the "practical" black shoes you were forced to wear with the uniform, but the rest was a grand adventure. You were so excited to make new friends, see new things, and spread your wings.

Spread your wings you did. In fact it was just a short time and you were going places again. This time, wearing rugby shoes, back to America for university. I kept thinking of that eight year old I met, but I was faced with a soon-to-be eighteen year old. You had grown into such a self-assured and beautiful young woman. I was proud that you now not only considered me "Aunt" but also friend. I could not love you more if there were a blood relationship. As I prayed for your university education, I marveled at the young woman God had destined for you to become.

Today, I sit her thinking of the new places you are going. You have traded your trendy boots for more durable options. You have just spent your first week in ROTC Leadership Training. I shouldn't be surprised that you chose the military as an option for your future since your grandpa, mother and father all faithfully served. But there is a part of me that quivers and quakes at your decision. Not that you can't cut it--my rugby playing, no-holds-barred, tell-it-like-you-see-it, sweet niece--I know you can cut it. But it is the places you could go with this decision that give me pause. I know that you will serve where ever you are sent and do a wonderful job at it. I pray that those places are out of harms way. I pray that your heart and your mind are protected from the things that you are likely to see in the coming years. I know the One who holds the places where you are going; don't ever lose sight of Him.

Going places....
Leadership Training...

How easy it was to let you go some places. How hard it is now! Praying for you!

Aunt MiPa

The picture is courtesy of and the photographer is "kakisky".

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

In Other Words--Can I Be Defeated?

I am easily embarrassed in social settings. I constantly worry about saying the wrong thing, doing the wrong thing, and not appearing to have it all together. Some years ago a friend challenged me that this type of worry is really a sense of pride. She said that it is prideful to think that others care that much about what we are saying and doing that they are watching that closely. She challenged me to focus more on others and less on myself, which allowed me to relax and be myself in those settings. That fear of embarrassment could no longer defeat me.
“He who has no sense of self-importance cannot be offended or defeated.”
~W. Phillip Keller

Although I have not read this quote before, perhaps that is a little of what the author is conveying. When we are less focused on ourselves, we are not as easily defeated by the thoughts and actions of those around us.

I confess, however, that his use of the word "offended" confuses me slightly. The things that offend me are not usually directed at me. I am offended when someone continually takes the Lord's name in vain. I am offended when others are callously mistreated. Perhaps, there is a sense of self-importance in my defining behaviour. Perhaps he means a different definition of 'offend' than I am thinking. I will look forward to reading the entries of other participants to get a better understanding of this. [Note that this is one of the reasons I love 'In Other Words' is to get perspectives that I would not have seen on my own.]

Father, as I interact with others in social settings, help me to not be prideful or carry such a sense of self-importance that I allow fear to defeat me. Use those settings to continue to mold my understanding of myself and to focus me on the needs of others. Lead me to situations where I can demonstrate your love and grace. Amen.

In Other Words is hosted this week at Living for God. Come and read what others are sharing around this quote.

Sunday, September 04, 2011

September Goals


In August I set goals as:
1. Write an update post for April-July and then write 2-3 blog posts a week--finally posted an update, not successful on 2-3 per week
2. Finish getting school things ready for Sept-Oct--about halfway there
3. Download pictures off the camera in order to accomplish #1--yes
4. Complete 2 Bride's Tree ornaments--no
5. Complete 4 blocks on big cross stitch project--completed three
6. Read one non-school book--read one, listened to another on cd, and pre-read two of Jewel's school books
7. Enjoy a beach holiday---yes, yes, yes (pictures someday)

September goals:
1.  Finish prepping for school start at the end of September
2.  Complete 4 blocks on big cross stitch project
3.  Complete 2 Bride's Tree ornaments
4.  Post at least 2 blog entries per week
5.  Complete project to put old financial records on dvd and shred records
6.  Finish putting pictures on walls of new house