Monday, August 27, 2012

Green Paw

Four green paws in a row. And then it happened. Friday rolled around and the folder sent home bore a yellow paw print with a note from the teacher. Apparently, this mind-of-his-own four-year-old did what he wanted to and not what he was told. The box was checked indicating improvement in the areas of listening and following instructions. The note said the teacher had counted to 3 but he "didn't want to" do as she asked.

I asked him about the yellow paw incident, to which he responded, "I don't want to tell you." You're 4, not 14. You're too young to clam up!

I don't really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don't do it. Instead, I do what I hate. Romans 7:15

Anyone else found yourself confused by your own actions? Dumbfounded by your choices? Bewildered by what you do, despite not wanting to do it?! You find yourself buried underneath catastrophic decisions even though you knew better.

I dare say I've found myself on yellow more than I want to admit. And even worse, I've gone well beyond the color-coded elementary warning system that represents behavioral choices and consequences.

We do what we know is wrong. We don't do what we know we should. It's a struggle, right? We wrestle against our flesh. We battle our inherent sin nature.

Yellow was last week. Today is a new day. And now I'm anxiously awaiting the reveal of the day's colored paw print. Yes, we suffer consequences of last week's choices. But each day His mercies are new to us, and each day we can live as more than conquerers because of His power within us.

Here's hoping for a Green Paw!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

The First REAL Day of School

Remember last week when I was adamently opposed to the onset of fall? Come on, Carrie. You studied counseling. You know there's always a deeper issue lurking underneath. It wasn't about the new season bringing cooler temperatures and changing leaves. No, what this was about was a different kind of season. A change in life. One that I have anticipated, prayed over, researched, discussed, and prayed over some more. One that I have been excited and nervous about all at the same time. And here we are.

While the first day of Pre-K was yesterday, it was just a half day. But today - oh yes, today - is the first full day of school.
It was an earlier waking time for everyone today... But I was ready. Lunches were packed last night. Coffee was ready for me to hit the on-switch. Chocolate milk and breakfast was already prepared. His backpack was packed and my bag was ready to go, too. In those quiet moments after I was ready and before he needed to be up, I sat down to pray. But before I could even utter the words I found myself in tears.

"Lord, why am I so emotional about this today?!"

Then it was time. Without so much as an argument, he sprung out of bed and straight into my arms. On Sunday we picked out his outfits for the entire week and put them in individual cubbies, labeled with each day of the week. He proudly got Tuesday's outfit out and got dressed. Breakfast was served and then it was time to go. He was so excited he was literally running through the house.

I parked the car and walked him in. I was in good company. Parents with children of all ages were accompanying them to their classrooms. It is the first "official" day so I claimed that as my parental right.

There was excitement filling the school. New packbacks were full of school supplies. Little girls with sparkly shoes and ribbons in their hair. Boys with new tennis shoes that would not look this clean ever again. It was hard not to smile at the passing strangers, parents just like me taking their kids just like me.

Like a champ, he walked right into his classroom, said good morning to his teacher and proceeded to unpack his backpack in his cubby. I hugged and kissed him goodbye and just like that he was caught up in his day and I turned to leave.

I sat in my car and quietly prayed over him, his day, his actions, his decisions, his mind, his heart, his interactions. I pray as he grows in stature and wisdom, he will also grow to love and serve the Lord. I pray he will commit his life to Christ and come to this understanding of faith early on in life.

I can't be there to watch his every move, but I can pray over him continuously. I'm not rejecting this season of change. It's here whether I like it or not, whether I cry about it or not. I'm embracing it with full intentions of holding onto him, understanding that I must also be willing to loosen my grip a little with each new milestone we reach. This is part of growing up. This is part of parenting.

Even as I walked the halls of campus today I had this brief thought of dropping him off at college one day. I realize this is just the beginning of first days of school for many years to come. I'm embracing today but not without embracing my son! Happy First Day of School!


Monday, August 20, 2012

First Day of Pre-K




Today, August 20, 2012, marks a milestone in the life of my son. As a working mom, I've had to adjust to having Elijah in full-time care. The first two years he was blessed to have an at-home nanny, and he's had the world's best babysitter for the last two years. But today is different. Today was the first day of Pre-Kindergarten. This is the first day of the beginning of his education. Not that he hasn't been learning from his family, friends, church, and other care providers. But today he began an all-day, five-day pre-Kindergarten program. He's lucky to be right next door to "Mrs. Donaruma" (one of Campbell County's BEST Kindergarten teachers) and also known to him as "Aunt Lindsay." She assured me he did well on his first day, just as the teacher said, but more on that later.

He's been prepping for weeks now. We shopped for his Lightning McQueen backpack, lunchbox and matching thermos. He got new school clothes and tennis shoes. He admitted he would miss his sitter and the two boys who've become his closest friends in life, but he also talked with excitement about going to school. 

On the eve before school, we read Grover's First Day of School and he was ready. He didn't want to wake up this morning, despite an earlier bedtime and sleeping like a rock. But once he realized the day had finally arrived, he was ready to go, beating me to the car. We followed behind the school bus (admittedly, mama is not quite ready for her 4-year-old to ride the bus).

He made his way to the classroom, wanting to be carried into the school, but I declined, reminding him he's a "big boy in preK now." He reluctantly agreed to walk. I helped him hang his backpack in his cubby and he made his way to his assigned seat. I admit - I was nervous at the thought that my free-spirited wide-open little boy will be asked to stay in an assigned seat. This is not at all what he's used to. But the report on this came back in his favor too!

Parents were asked to leave and escorted on a 2-hour tour of the school and resources. Our last stop was the PTA and I paid my dues and signed up, naturally. WHAT?! I have a child in preK and I'm a member of the PTA. How did this happen?!

The first day was only a half day. We met back up with the kids in the cafeteria where he was donning his backpack and chowing down on a snack. He was quick to report on his day, saying he'd obeyed and followed instructions. He later told me a boy in his class got in trouble for yelling but proudly stated he listened to the teacher and obeyed. Apparently, according to him, he even tried to quiet the yelling boy, where he was reminded by the teacher and mom that the adult will handle things. He retorted, "But moooom...I was trying to be responsible because that boy wasn't listening to the teacher!"  I couldn't be mad about that! I think he's well on his way to learning the pillars of character! :)

And now he's tucked snug-as-a-bug in his bed. Tomorrow is his first full day. It's a big change in this little boy's life. And this mama is truly proud.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Ashes

Lonely but never alone.
Abused but not abandoned.
Broken but not useless.
Bruised but not paralyzed.
Wounded but not perishing.
Defeated but not destroyed. 

He knows your pain. He knows the hurt inside. He sees every tear. He holds your broken heart. He offers hope and peace when you feel nothing but helpless. He lifts you up when you're too weak to stand. He carries you when you can't go any further.

Whatever ashes, He takes them and turns them into beauty. You may only see a sooty mess, but He sees what has yet to be created.

Esther

A father to the fatherless
A healer of the brokeness, you make
Beauty from the ashes

A helper to the helpless
A fighter for the hopeless, you love
Those who are alone

Those who are alone 

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

So Long Summer

I got in my car at 7:30 a.m. and the thermostat read 63 degrees. It's barely mid-August and already there's a 20 degree drop in the usual 80-degree heatwave of summer. This dip in temperature, the darker mornings, and the cooler evenings are signs of the inevitable change of seasons. Where has summer gone?

I keep seeing friends post with anticipation as they look forward to the beginning of fall. NO! My spirit is rebelling against this warm embrace of crisp air and autumn breezes. Why?! I usually love the change of seasons. I usually welcome all fall brings: the start of school, pumpkin-flavored-everything, changing leaves, golden sunrises, cooler temperatures, and the approaching holiday season... So why am I clinging to the lazy days of summer with a death grip?!

Surely the heat and humidity, standing outside sweating with no exertion of energy, and the frizziness of my hair are all reasons to bid this season farewell. And yet I'm just not ready!

Some have remarked the fall and start of school brings order to a less-than-scheduled summer season. Some have mentioned the beauty in nature this time of year brings. Others are counting down the days to the first kickoff. I get it. I truly do. But for me in this season right now, I'm just not quite filled with the same enthusiasm as things begin to change.

I don't like the darkness when my alarm goes off. I want to be greeted by the sunlight. As much as I love sunsets, I don't want them to come earlier in the evenings. My tan is fading which won't matter much when I retire my sundresses and tank tops. Even though I did make sure to stock up on my sunless tanning spray! Do I really think I can hold off fall if I maintain a fake sun-kissed glow?!

"There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven..." ~ Ecclesiastes 3:1

This too shall pass, right?! That includes summer. There's new activity beginning. School. Changing leaves. Golden skies. Cooler temperatures. It's time... well, almost.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

The Beach

Hello blog! I took time off because of vacation and being sick. I'm still dealing with this 'crud' that seems to want to stick around. Oh how I wish vacation could have been what lingered...

It was more than just a blog hiatus - I had a broken cell phone and was supplied with a loaner that I had no idea how to operate. I didn't load my social media apps or all of my email accounts and I thoroughly enjoyed the break from all social media.

Back to reality and as usual I am thrust into a world of spinning wheels and juggling acts that never stopped while I was gone and out of touch. This is always how it works. It just takes that initial jolt to bring you back to the world you left behind.

Even now I'm staring at photos of us on the beach and wishing for the sound of the waves and soothing breeze that seemed to drown any thought or care I might have left at home. I realize that's not the world I live in so I focus back on the half dozen apps I have opened on my desktop that all demand my attention.

I need to be honest about something. It wasn't just the sand in my toes and the ocean waves rolling across my feet. It was the complete mental, physical, and emotional break. Even external factors and outside distractions were left behind. Albeit temporary, I was able to just relax.

Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from him. ~ Psalm 62:5

It is good to rest. It is good to be still. It is good to be quiet. (Granted, 5 kids ages 6 and under plus 3 adults in a small beach house wasn't really all that quiet...) It's also good to take a break.

This was the first year E loved the ocean. He's always loved the sand, and he spent plenty of time with his plastic army men buried on the beach, but this year he begged to go in the water. As if all his fears were swept away with the waves, he headed toward the sea and was ready to plunge in. He looked away for a split second but that was all it took for a wave to catch him off guard and knock him to his knees. I reached to grab him and stand him up again. I thought for sure he'd want out of the water but he wished to remain - only now he wanted me to hold him.

He wasn't scared but he preferred that I go in deep in enough so his feet and legs could get hit by the crashing waves. Hearing him laugh and giggle in my ear as I held him close might have been the most peaceful and relaxing moment all week.

Even as I get back into the swing of things and the demands of life, I admit to having already reached a point where I thought the waves were knocking me to my knees. I've felt a little blown and tossed by the sea, and yet I'm reminded of one of my favorite passages in Isaiah 43 where He promises not to let the water sweep over me. The fire won't burn me. He's promised to be with me. And not only is He with me, but He's holding onto me. The waves might hit my legs and they may be thrashing around me, but He's not going to let me be overtaken by that which swirls around me.

I'm thankful for rest. I'm thankful for broken cell phones and neglected blogs. I'm thankful for sand in my toes. I'm thankful for waves. I'm thankful for arms strong enough to hold. I'm thankful for peace in the midst of chaos. I'm ready to pack my bag again!