Sunday, August 24, 2014

The "D" Word

I'm going to jump back into what I started. It needs to be discussed, talked about, taught, and practiced. Why? Because we're at war. A real war, with real lives, with real consequences. We lose that mindset through weeknight sitcoms, educational pursuits, losing ten pounds, and checking social media. 

The distractions stealthily pile in around us until we are lulled into a day-in-day-out mode of operation. Subtly, our marriages suffer, our children suffer, our relationship with God suffers, as we are none the wiser. 
And the war wages as we catch up with Netflix and tell the kids to go play somewhere else. 
Please tell me a war, any war, any battle, skirmish, minor altercation that ended well if one could not identify their enemy? How in the world does any military hope to be victorious unless they can correctly, quickly, and assuredly identify their enemy. The various sides throughout history up until present study their enemy, to learn habits, schedules, fighting styles, techniques, weapons, location, movement, and communication patterns. 

How can we, the Church, hope to engage in the daily battle if we don't acknowledge our enemy? The "d" word has become a word thrown out along with hardback hymnals and alter calls in the new church era. I'm not saying the Church can't stay current, just don't get stuck in it. 

Our kids, tomorrow's soldiers, need to know their enemy, his tactics, his schemes, his style of attack. How can they be on their guard if the devil is never mentioned? As if talking about him might usher evil to our door. No. Identify him. Expose him. And train to fight his attacks.
My boys are not unaware of who the devil is. We openly talk about their, our, my enemy. He's seeking to devour, to steal, kill, and destroy and I want these soldiers to be on their guard, not taken off by the wolf in sheep's clothing. 

We talk about his attack plans, his subtle ways that may not look like the enemy at first. They may be disguised and leave us curious and questioning. We discuss his plans to confuse, distract, divide, and devour. And we discuss our strategy, our weapons, our Savior, and His ultimate battle plan. 

The boys are young and we arm them only with what they are strong enough to carry for this present time, but my five year old can rebuke the devil in the dark hours of the night when nightmares creep stealthily in to rob him of peace. My three year old loves prayer walks and prays over neighbors and strangers knowing the power behind his Savior's name, "Jesus."
My five year old even came to us this morning, "One day," he said, "I know someone might say something to make me wonder if God really is real. If what I believe is true. And I'll know, it's a sneak attack. Satan is using the questions to make me get hurt, but he can't hurt me! I have God in my heart and he's more powerful and I just have to say, 'get away from me Satan!', and ask God to help me stay strong." 

I cover this might little man and his little brothers in prayer that they will always stay keen to their enemy. 

Church, teach your children who their enemy is. Train in battle, be on the alert. And recognize one of the devil's most stealthy attacks, distraction. Put down your phones, remote controls, iPads, and Kindles. Pick up your "Sword" and teach your children to fight. 

"So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time he will lift you up in honor. Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you. Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. Stand firm against him, and be strong in your faith." 1 Peter 5:6-9

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Jones Point

Are y'all ready for this shocker? This family loves water.
If you've been reading this blog as long as say, last week, you'll know we were made for sea and sun.
So keeping my hydromaniacs satisfied in between oceanfront excursions means searching out adventures as close to water's edge as possible.
And a combination of reading blogs and getting lost has found us some pretty neat adventures along the Potomac.
Recently I've employed google maps and just wander a 50 mile radius looking for any pristine spot waiting to by stomped and muddied by three powerballs.
This week's map hit was Jones Point Park; never heard of it? It's ok, most of DC hasn't either and it's ok with me if it stays that way.
Tucked in the lower corner of Old Town Alexandria, is a hidden spot of history and water front exploring.
It boasts one of the only remaining riverine lighthouses in the country and the only one on the Chesapeake Bay.
Apparently this was a happening place back in the late 1800's but it was blissfully peaceful and solitary for us...
...until my boys got there that is. But I read that at one point the lightkeeper in the early 1900's had his wife and 11 children living in that little house so that made the noises my guys were making seems little quieter.
But even with their antics, scraped knees, and climbing...on everything...the boys appreciated the spot for what it was. I've never seen them so still with so much waterfront play waiting to be had.
In fact they asked passing kayakers if they knew if the lighthouse for sale so we could buy it. But I have a feeling, with our water love, we'll be back, soon.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Carried

“And so seated next to my father in the train compartment, I suddenly asked, "Father, what is sexism?"
He turned to look at me, as he always did when answering a question, but to my surprise he said nothing. At last he stood up, lifted his traveling case and set it on the floor.

Will you carry it off the train, Corrie?" he said.
I stood up and tugged at it. It was crammed with the watches and spare parts he had purchased that morning.
It's too heavy," I said.

"Yes," he said, "and it would be a pretty poor father who would ask his little girl to carry such a load. It's the same way, Corrie, with knowledge. Some knowledge is too heavy for children. When you are older and stronger, you can bear it. For now you must trust me to carry it for you.”- The Hiding Place

The world is more than my heart can take right now. More than ever it is clear it is not our home, but it is our battleground, our mission field, and where we're raising these precious boys to grow into men of God. In time they will become aware of the darkness literally surrounding us and my heart aches at the loss of their innocence. 
In time they will be strong enough to carry their own "suitcases". In time they will see the ugliness that is this world. But for now I'm opening their eyes to see the beauty God placed amidst the chaos and pain, the water and open skies, the tides and seasons, homemade cookies and being tucked in at night. 
For now, I'll teach them to see not how man sees, but how God sees. For now, I'm carrying the suitcase, because today my cowboys and army men need to run in innocence, and today is far from the day of them needing to carry such a weight as our world.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Seasons

I'm ignoring the yellow tinge to the leaves on the trees outside my kitchen window. I'm ignoring that subtle shift in the evening air. I'm ignoring all the posts and statuses about longing for sweaters and hot chocolate.
But what I cannot ignore, mainly due to the four men in my life who would never let me do otherwise, is the start of football season.
It's marked on calendars along with the birthdays. It's planned for and anticipated like a holiday. And it's a well known fact we will all be donning our team colors, chopping up some pico de gallo, and yelling at a screen for three hours, several times a week.
Every opportunity for more football is seized eagerly. Since I can empathize with the men's in my life seasonal passions, we loaded up and spent a sunny afternoon at the Redskins Training Camp.
This was the kind of camp my boys are all about and being a quiet observer of their excitement and love for the sport gave me little glimpses of what ignites them inside.
Just gazing across the field in awe, or staring up to the top of the goal posts, left them speechless and still as they soaked it all in as if the moment would go too swiftly.
As if it couldn't get any better than astro-turf, apparently kids who couldn't see over the fence had the privileged of just hopping it and sitting in the end-zone.
Waiting for the players to take the field wasn't the highlight of their day, but this awesome assistant on the coaching staff came over and asked for the boy's autographs.
I'm assuming he's just good at recognizing raw talent and knows those John Hancocks will be worth something one day ;)
Finally the players stormed the field preforming under whistle blows and sideline coaching as the boys rooted for tackles and touchdowns.After practice the players came over to the kids and called a few out to actually walk on the revered astro-turf.
To a kid who eats and breaths football, we thought Harrison would take the opportunity to talk the guys' ears off about the game. But later we found out they had more serious things to discuss during their field time;  the beach, jumping waves, and surfing.
So if my summertime oceanfront love can still have a place in football, maybe the changing seasons won't be so dreaded. We'll just make everyone in this house happy and change "Fall" to "Football" and keep right on ignoring the leaves and talk ocean along with offense.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Identity Theft

Dear Harrison and Jefferson, and one day when you're a little older, Wilson, 
You're growing up fast, too fast. So stop it. Seriously. But with the growing come the pains. You guys are full-on "I can do it myself" mode and while I'm all for letting you take on some tasks it's been heart wrenching as your Mommy watching your confidence fizzle and the self-accusations fly with failed attempts.
I confess it's from my gene pool that you've each received a healthy dose of perfectionism, but what's more been glaringly apparent is I've failed to secure in your hearts who you are. There is a thief out to steal your identity and when you shove the shoe away with laces that won't cooperate to be tied and declare, "I'll never be good enough", he's doing his job.
When the words aren't sounding themselves out, when the bat misses the ball, when the beds won't make smoothly, when the milk won't pour spill-free, when the buttons won't snap, and the bike won't balance all are rich opportunities for me to remind you just who you are.
"I'm stupid at this...I hate myself...I'll never get this right...I won't ever learn" are all lies set to steal your true identity. 
You are children of God. You were created in His image. Your identity is in Him and through Him you have already succeeded.
While frustration with failed attempts and less than perfect results will probably daily plague us perfectionists, never forget that your identity is not in performance, but in the presence of your Father. My little men, stay strong in Him who created and loves you, and your identity will remain secure and uncompromised.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Grateful Vs. Thankful

They told me I'd learn a lot when I became a parent, but no one prepared me for the depth of education I'd be receiving. Most days I'm barely keeping my head above water as the boys throw terms, definitions, and explanations my way faster than an MIT professor. 
My most recent course was in 'Gratefulness v. Thankfulness". I was pretty sure these were interchangeable, thesaurus buddies, and to a point they are. But my 40 inch tall professors gave me some insight I've been missing.
 Every day we take turns telling God something we are thankful for. While we began this time to offset discontentment and grumbling it's become a very looked forward to nightly event.  But as these little ones come before their Father with their "thankful for..." I hear a deeper emotion.
Gratefulness pours from their lips as they show their appreciation to God. The simple does not go unnoticed as they list off..."I'm thankful for clean water; not everyone has clean water. It makes us healthy and it's fun to play in. Thank you God that you've given us clean water every day."
Thankful is being pleased or relieved. Grateful is feeling or showing appreciation for what someone has done. So while I'm thankful I have three boys napping upstairs, those same sleepy heads nightly express their gratefulness for what God has done for them, including a pool with clean water to play in.
So what about you? What are you thankful for? A house, a job, the weather? What are you grateful for? I'm grateful God designed, planned, and knit together these three little men I have the honor to mother; and I'm grateful for the daily lessons I'm learning from the ones I thought needed me to teach them. :)