Fear of Failure

We knelt on the floor, close to the ground with the dim light and high ceiling covering us. We grasped hands as we spoke the concerns of our hearts, and we believed that He would hear.

That night as we sat as a group of women, our husbands in another room, we shared openly and honestly. And even though all of our requests were different, the underlying feeling of fear in each story was palpable.

Feeling tired and frustrated as a mother. Holding worry for a sibling with cancer. Watching parents’ health decline. Carrying a rotten work-week long after the office was closed. While all the requests were different, it struck me that we all were afraid.

We were afraid that our children who wouldn’t obey were a sign that we weren’t good mothers. We were afraid that we couldn’t be the rock for our sister in her time of need. We were afraid of the helplessness involved with sickness and disease. We were afraid that we weren’t the good example that we had hoped to provide. We were afraid of failing when it mattered.

And as I listened to these requests for prayer, knowing the condition of my own heart, I felt so convicted. Why do I let this fear of failure consume me? Why do I judge myself so much more harshly than I would ever judge anyone else? And why is it so hard to give to God that which I cannot do?

I thought about this idea all week, and, of course, I was tested today. My children were defiant, and I didn’t feel well. If ever I needed them to obey, it was today, but they didn’t. And I found myself internalizing their bad choices, making them about me. I must not know how to discipline. If my children don’t respect their own mother, how I can ever expect that they will respect any authority figure? What am I doing wrong that they don’t care?

I had forgotten that they are imperfect creatures, and they are young. And while they fed off of each other, as children so close in age tend to do, I fed off of the lie that I was failing and, therefore, ruining my children.

And that is when God whispered in my ear.

You haven’t leaned on me.

I don’t believe that God is some genie in a bottle whom I rub when I need a quick solution; instead, He is there to walk with me when I have a long haul. And I needed to let Him walk with me, admitting to Him that I needed help, accepting that I’m not perfect, but believing that I wasn’t ruining my children, either.

 

photo via photobucket.com

I am sure that I have many failings as a mother, and I’m sure the Super Nanny would love to teach me a thing or two. But I’m also sure that I go before the Lord most every night and every morning on behalf of my children and in my own quest for wisdom. And I know He hears me, and I know He honors my prayers.

And He hears you, too. He knows the fears you carry, and He wants to carry them instead.

None of us will reach perfection. All of us will fail. And that’s okay.

He didn’t expect any different, so why should we?

14 For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. 15 The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship.[f] And by him we cry, “Abba,[g] Father.” 16 The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children (Romans 8:14-16, New International Version, 2010).

Journeys

Do you let the fear of failure take over? How has God dealt with this fear you carry?

Or share your own journey that you are currently taking! What is God teaching you? Link your post below!

 

Family, Food, Forgiveness

The black Lincoln limousine picked me up from the airport, and I looked out the window as the rain fell down on the dark street. It may or may not have been raining, but I have a horrible memory, and that’s how I have chosen to remember this event. Besides, rain is befitting of the occasion.

I had left an Air Force training to attend the funeral of my grandmother. The company for which my father works was kind enough to offer to send a limousine to pick me up at the airport, which was an hour or so away, so that my father could stay at the wake with the rest of his family. I felt strange having someone I didn’t know drive me, especially since the limo wasn’t like the limo I rode in for prom. I was in a regular Lincoln Town car, with only the front seat separating me from this man I didn’t know.

I looked out the window most of the drive on that gloomy night until we pulled in front of the funeral home. I was met by my father and taken inside the dark room where my grandmother lay. She didn’t look like herself–her face was bloated–and I felt uncomfortable seeing a face that didn’t look how I remembered it. And sadness and guilt filled me as I regretted not finding a way to travel to New Jersey to see Grandma while she was sick.

But in the midst of the grief that all were experiencing in the room, a trickle of joy had spread. When I moved to the back to join my mother, she was surrounded by most of her family. All of her sisters had come to comfort her in the loss of her mother-in-law, and two of these sisters had been absent from her life for around ten years, a split in the family severing the relationship.

I don’t know what caused the break in their relationship; I don’t know if they do, either, but my grandmother’s death brought them all together for reconciliation. My parents from Georgia, my sister and her husband from Kentucky, my relatives from New Jersey and Vermont, and me from training in Ohio, all together. And because of my grandmother’s death and this reconciliation, I was able to share with most of my family the news that I was carrying life within my own belly, a true blessing for me as I had not been able to share with any loved ones up until this point. I couldn’t even hold my own husband as I read the words ‘pregnant’ on the little stick in my Air Force lodging room.

After the wake, we made our way through the rain to grab some pizza. I had to chuckle at my father and my uncle–it doesn’t matter where we are or why we are there, they will find the best pizza joint in town. As we walked in the small restaurant, my uncle offered his loud New Jersey greeting, and I smiled to notice that he had already made friends with the owner and knew what food to recommend. It was good to know that even the death of their mother wouldn’t stop them from enjoying a good pizza.

I remember sitting around the long, rectangular table, my mom and her sisters together, my dad’s brother and his family interspersed throughout, my own sister and her husband there. And there was joy. Joy over pizza and pasta. Joy in the midst of grief and death. Joy in the midst of new life and nausea. Joy in the midst of fragile relationships.

And while my memory is foggy of the details like the exact meals we were eating or the clothes everyone was wearing, there is one detail I will never forget: my mother’s smile.

After dinner, we walked into the wet parking lot, our family talking, laughing, saying its ‘goodbyes,’ and my mother and one of her sisters stopped. They turned to each other and embraced. I remember watching this embrace, two grown women pulling each other tight, determined to not let go as they had done several years ago. My aunt’s eyes were squeezed shut, tears leaking out. But my mother–I just remember her smile.

Her mouth was closed, but her smile stretched across her face, and I could see that this hug, this reconciliation literally made her whole body feel better. In this hug she regained hold of part of her family that she had thought she had lost. As they rubbed each others’ backs, they smoothed out the discord that had haunted this family, and as their tears fell, they washed clean and started anew.

photo via photobucket

We left dinner and got into our different cars, making our way to the hotel to prepare for the next day. I don’t remember the ride there or where we stayed, but I imagine my dad was processing through his own emotions. But my mom–I know she radiated joy at this chance for new life.

Mama’s Losin’ It

When did you have a family meal that you will never forget? Have you ever had a moment of reconciliation that changed your life?

Come back tomorrow for ‘Journeys’–I’m no longer supplying a topic, so you can write on any spiritual journey that you are taking. Click on the tab above for more information. And lastly, I decided to try out this ‘NetworkedBlogs’ thing, so if you’d like click the ‘follow’ button on the right side of my blog. You’ll get an update to your Facebook account when I publish a new post. Have a great day!

Snapshot

I walked out the doors of Lodging with my coworker beside me. I don’t remember where we were going, but the sun was shining causing me to squint, the weather warm. Parked along the curb was a father with his two sons. He was unloading the car of their bags, hunched over, trying to keep the boys next to him at the same time.

I remember the little boys, dressed in their camouflage, wearing the sandy tan and green pattern from head to the toe of their tiny boots. And I remember as I walked out the sliding doors in my own blues and flight cap watching one boy in particular.

As the doors closed behind me, he looked up and saw me. His mouth took the shape of a circle as he sucked in the air around him. His heavy boots danced a little jig as he jumped to attention, and his arm moved up the center of his body as he whipped out a sharp salute. He stood as still and as rigid as a statue, this little boy, who moments before, had the same inability to stand still as evidenced in all young boys of his age.

And I smiled, doing my best to surpress a giggle, and returned the salute. I continued walking on my way to the right with my coworker, the two of us chuckling at the image of the little soldier behind me, so impressed with the uniform I was wearing.

It was the best salute I had ever received.

What is a memory you have that is not necessarily the most significant but stands out in your mind like a photograph? Tell me about it below, or if you’ve written about it before (or want to now), include a link to your post in the comments section.

Thank you for all the feedback you gave yesterday regarding ‘Journeys.’ Starting this week, I will not provide a specific topic for ‘Journeys’ but, instead, give everyone the freedom to write on whatever journey God is taking him or her on now. Our life is one big journey, but within that journey, we learn many lessons. Perhaps, God is taking you on a journey through prayer, or maybe you are on a journey of submission to His will. Maybe in this time of Lent you are on a journey of sacrifice. Whatever the journey, I would love for you to share your post, whether it be a story, poem, photograph, essay, etc., this Friday!

One Special Boy

photo via photobucket

We pulled into the parking lot, and I was immediately struck by the cars lining the curb. Every inch of asphalt was taken, in addition to the lined parking spaces. The lower lot was was blocked with orange cones, and the kids and I noticed the abrasive sound of machinery at work near the facility. Some sort of maintenance was taking place. I stuck out in the middle of the lot as I tried to create my own space as others had done.

A lady signaled to me from her car that she was leaving, and I watched as she backed out of her own impromptu space, a bigger home for a car than the one I had just created. I slid in next to the grassy curb, and Caleb immediately unbuckled and walked down to the front of the van. I came around to the kids’ side, washcloth in hand, ready to make clean the chocolate-covered hands and faces before me. Today was special, and I gave in to earlier requests for doughnuts, a treat that the kids had not tasted in probably over a year.

I unbuckled Hannah Grace and looked over at Caleb, already bouncing off of one foot and then the other. I began to regret my breakfast choice that morning, worried that mixing young children hopped-up on sugar with the elderly residents of a nursing home might not have been the best idea. As I lifted Chloe from her car seat and grabbed my purse, Hannah Grace skipped next to Caleb, and I took the opportunity to warn my kids about the behavior I expected:

“You guys cannot bounce around like that. You can have fun, but we have to stay calm. Some of the people here might not feel well, and they’re not going to want to watch kids who are acting all crazy.”

After about three attempts, all four of us finally connected hands, and we proceeded to walk, with a little less bouncing, down the small flight of concrete stairs to the front of the center. We walked quickly as the activity hour had already begun. We reached the front door, and I opened it while looking down at my three helpers, doing my best to usher them in and keep them from running straight back to the large room where we had played parachute last week.

But before I had even looked up, a woman blocked my way.

“Can I help you?”

“Well, we’re here to help with the activity today,” I said while looking around, suddenly noticing people working in the dark, a lack of residents sitting in the front waiting area like last week.

“We’re closed,” the lady politely, but intent on making this conversation quick, replied. “The roof caved in the other day, so we won’t be open until we get everything squared away.”

“Oh my goodness!” I replied, wondering if I should’ve noticed a missing roof as I walked up to the building, suddenly understanding why the phone just rang and rang the two times I tried to call earlier to prepare them for our visit. I felt silly, wondering how long the center had been closed.”Where did all the residents go?”

The woman explained that they had been moved to various facilities in the area, and then she checked to see if we had family staying at this center.

“Oh, no. We’re just here to help with the activity.”

“Well, thank you; we appreciate that. But just try calling to check when we’ve reopened.”

She wasn’t sure when that day would be, and I apologized for just walking in to the closed center.

I ushered the three kids back out the door and tried, once again, to create a chain of all our hands. However, Caleb wouldn’t join in. He walked ahead quickly, his shoulders hunched forward, his head hanging down.

“Caleb, are you okay?”

He wouldn’t answer, and I knew from his posture that he was crying.

“Sweetie, do you want to talk about what’s bothering you?” He could’ve just been disappointed that he wasn’t going to get to play parachute that morning, but I sensed he was feeling more than disappointment.

He grabbed the van’s door and began pulling on it, willing it to open so that he wouldn’t have to look at me.

“Okay, you don’t have to talk, but if you want to, let me know,” I told him as I unlocked the sliding door.

He hopped in the van and went back to his seat silently, and I watched as the back of his hand moved up to wipe his eyes.

I know my son, and I know he was worried. He heard that the roof caved in, and when my first thought was, “How did I miss that?” his first thought was, “Are the people okay?” I found out later from my husband, always quick to do an internet search, that all the residents were, in fact, okay; none were present in the dining area when the roof, undergoing a renovation, collapsed.

I started the van and pulled out of the space we had made and drove around the circle. I looked in the rearview mirror at Caleb, who didn’t want to talk, and we headed toward home. And as we drove, with little talking at first, my heart warmed. When God made Caleb, he made one special little boy.

Contemplating this week’s sermon on ‘Being the Church,’ and am grateful for the example found in my children. When was a time you witnessed a young child sharing the heart of God? Linking up today with Michelle.

 

And now I need your help. For the last couple of months, I have written a blog each Friday for ‘Journeys,’ the last few weeks being devoted to the fruits of the Spirit. I provided the opportunity for others to link their own posts, but there really wasn’t that much interest. The ‘Journeys’ topics have been good for me, and, while this blog is mine, it’s also yours! You all have been faithful readers and commenters, and I am interested to know what you’d like to read.

Before I eliminate the link-up all-together, would you be willing to link up on a less specific topic, perhaps just an open-ended God journey each week? Do you have another idea for a link-up? Or would you prefer to just read my take on ‘Journeys’ each week but not actually participate?

I appreciate your feedback. Feel free to give your opinion in the comments below or e-mail me at jennifer at  matt dash davis dot com. Thank you!

Excuses, Excuses

I sat in the middle of the floor fuming, absolutely fuming, as I picked up each card and slid it into the appropriate box. The anger burned inside my chest, radiating heat all the way up to my cheeks. My brow was permanently furrowed, my lips pursed as tight as I could hold them together, my jaw beginning to ache from clenching my teeth.

Every time I felt the first cleansing effects of a deep breath, all I had to do was look around me to find my fury. After all, everyone knows the expression: “Hell hath no fury like a mother left to clean up others’ messes” (Or something like that). And what a mess I was left!

I only have a picture because I wanted evidence of my rotten week for my husband, my husband who was out-of-town for the majority of the nightmare.

We had already cleaned up half of this mess once before. When I caught my son taking down his father and my games, I quickly admonished him to put them away. Of course he didn’t, as his little body was overtaken by a demon the moment his father walked out the door and headed to the airport, and his curious sister got into some of the cards from the various boxes. At this point, I joined them on the floor and began cleaning up the mess with them, lest things got too out-of-hand.

We stopped only to eat dinner, and as I packed away leftovers, they were to resume where we had left off. Apparently, my instructions were not clear, and they resumed where they had left off before I had intervened.

Every. single. card. of every. single. game. was on the floor.

Normally, I leave my kids’ messes for them to clean up, but this mess was too overwhelming, too vast, and I had to rid all evidence of this day before I tried to manage another day alone with them.

As I followed the kids upstairs, the anger burned inside me. And while I didn’t lose my temper, I definitely used it, reminding my son a half a dozen times how furious I was at him for his behavior this week, threatening the other two if they didn’t move quickly. I wanted them to go to bed and not talk to me until the morning. Of course, they didn’t comply with that request, either. We went upstairs at 6:30, and it was 8:30 before my kids were finished ‘getting ready’ for bed and another half an hour before the first fell asleep. My son decided that 10:30 would work for his bedtime that night.

And in the meantime, I sat in the middle of the floor putting card after card in its appropriate box, all the while fuming and steaming over all the reasons this mess was my husband’s, the man who had not been at our home for the last three days, fault. After all, who better to blame than the man who is out-of-town?

I had completely convinced myself that Matt was to blame for this mess, and as I sat for an hour and 15 minutes cleaning up these games, I decided that I no longer liked him.

Whenever Matt’s away, the kids act like monsters. Or if one of them is good (thank you, sweet Hannah Grace) the others make up for it. Who wouldn’t get angry at kids who behave this way?

I had enough sense to text Matt: “You know when I try to go to bed. Don’t call me.” Even though I wasn’t in bed, I didn’t think I should talk to Matt. Remember, I didn’t like him anymore, and I didn’t think I should tell him that.

So, of course, Matt called me. And I wasn’t nice.

But in my defense, I warned him not to call! I knew I was angry and couldn’t be nice, so he can’t really blame me for my less-than-loving tone.

As I lay in bed that night, I thought about how I allowed a mess of cards (albeit the worst mess of cards I’d ever seen) to create enough rage in me to kill a man. I allowed my fatigue and frustration to cloud my mind into thinking I disliked my husband. And I had created enough excuses to prove I was right.

In that moment, I had my first glimpse into how self-control really works.

Self-control isn’t just making good choices; self-control is eliminating excuses.

I lost my temper because my kids were out-of-control.

I’m so weary because my husband is out-of-town.

I’m having a cheat day today, but I’ll get back on my diet tomorrow.

These shoes were on sale, so it’s okay that I bought them (even though I already own 100 pairs).

And pretty soon, we believe the excuses and justify our behavior.

I lay in bed that night, nauseous and tired, holding on to my last thread of anger for one more moment. I thought about my husband whom I wanted to blame, my kids who were at fault for a mess (a huge one) but not for my anger, and I released them. If I wanted control of myself in the morning, I had to own up to myself that night.

I closed my eyes and said ‘goodnight’ to a horrible day and ‘goodnight’ to my excuses. And I drifted off to (a very short) sleep.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law” (Galatians 5:22-23, New International Version, 2010). Emphasis mine

Journeys

What are your go-to excuses for bad behavior? Leave a comment below, or link up your own post on ‘self-control!’ Thank you for joining me over the last few weeks as we explored the different fruits of the Spirit. I am worn out from God’s conviction! Stay tuned for more details as to what we’ll contemplate next in ‘Journeys’!

How I Deal With Interruptions

Typically, I don’t do very well with interruptions. I don’t have many moments that are my own, so when I can snag one, the task-oriented lady in me gets right to my list of things to do. I don’t want the phone to ring, someone to come to the door, or a kid to yell, “Uh-oh!” from the other room. And when that interruption occurs (because one always occurs), my mood changes instantly as a job goes unfinished. Except for this one time.

I’m honored to be a ‘Daily Guest’ over at (in)courage today, and I’d love for you to click here and read the rest of the story over there!

And don’t forget–tomorrow link up your post on ‘self-control’ as we finish our journey through the fruits of the Spirit.

Spring

Signs of spring have been here for a few weeks–the warm breeze, little white flowers abloom on trees that smell perfectly awful, and the sounds of birds chirping their new songs–but this weekend the knowledge of spring officially arriving put a bounce in my step.

I grabbed the special platter and covered  blue and yellow flowers with fresh-baked banana muffins. The sun streamed in through the breakfast windows, and placing the muffins on a plate didn’t seem to fit the occasion.

Spring was here. Actually, it would arrive the next day, but I had my dates mixed up. In my mind, spring was here, and the weather complemented my error. And as I placed each muffin atop another, I thought of my grandmother.

Grandma Ann’s birthday was the first day of spring, or at least, unofficially. Her actual birthday was May 1st, but Grandma decided that she wanted to celebrate her birth on the first day of spring, so every year we did.

I always thought the idea was a little crazy, but, now, as I watch signs of life peeking out from their long slumber, I think one couldn’t choose a more beautiful birthday. And as Grandma brought color and passion with her everywhere she went, the date is rather fitting, too.

Grandma Ann died during the heat of summer, but looking back, I realize her death was perfect. For within days of her passing, I found out that life was growing within me, a gentle reminder that spring always comes.

Washable Finger Paints

Sometimes I take my job as a parent to teach right from wrong so seriously, that I forget my responsibility is also to model grace. I allow my children’s acts of disobedience to ruin my day, erase my memory of all the good they do. Granted, sometimes they take disobedience to a whole new level, but I forget that even finger paint stains can be made clean (at least if they are of the washable variety).

Finger paint on chairs.

Finger paint on the carpet.

Finger paint on the sofa.

And various spots that will continue to surprise me throughout the week.

They will all wash clean.

Yet, it is on these stains that I tend to focus. I forget that these children who took the opportunity of Mommy using the bathroom to redecorate the downstairs are the same children who, earlier in the day, shared God’s love with the elderly at a nursing home. These children, on their first time meeting these men and women, most bound in wheelchairs, some with blank stares across their faces, others with sores or masks covering their mouths and noses, didn’t hesitate to walk into a room and share their smiles.

Caleb didn’t hesitate to tell everyone he is five now and share all the details of his life. Hannah Grace, my shy little girl, was able to work through her cautiousness to stand in between two people she had never met and shake the parachute with them during activity time. Even Chloe, once she got over her toddler anger that the ball in the middle of the parachute was not for her kicking enjoyment, watched in amusement at the game.

They were living examples of God’s love. And when they picked flowers lining the sidewalk entrance (to my horror) to give to the man enjoying the birds chirping and fresh, warm air on his skin, they shined the face of Jesus more clearly than any sermon explanation.

Yet that night, I only remembered finger paints.

And at the end of the weekend, as I rolled the steam cleaner from spot to spot, I had to ask myself why do I remember the stains my children make so easily when God willingly forgets mine?

While disobedience comes with consequences and must be addressed, it is not the whole of my children. I need to see them for the beautiful creations they are and the wondrous splashes of color they bring to life.

After all, that’s how God views me, and I’ve left more than my own fair share of finger paint trails.

Reflecting today on the ‘Puzzled by the Bible’ series at 12 Stone Church and the amazing dichotomy of God’s holiness and the offer of Christ’s forgiveness. Come back Friday for ‘Journeys’ and the last fruit of the Spirit topic–self-control.

Shamrocks and Late Nights

I had every intention of taking on the role of that mother, you know, the one who anticipates every holiday and presents her kids with an appropriate craft and history lesson on its origin. I know my limitations, so I planned to make simple shamrocks with the kids and Google search St. Patrick to provide just enough basic details about the man for whom this holiday is named.

photo via photobucket.com

Yeah, it didn’t happen.

Instead, at 8:50, when we are typically heading out the door for preschool which is five minutes away, we were all still in the kitchen. I realized the date and looked in horror at my three perfectly well-dressed children in the clothes they had laid out the night before–none of which had any green.

Because my priorities were in order, I made a mad-dash up the stairs, ripping through my son’s t-shirt drawer, pushing clothes out of the way in my daughter’s closet, finding completely new outfits for them down to the little green hair clip to adorn my daughter’s strawberry-blonde locks. I threw my son’s shirt over the bannister knowing that if I saved him the 30 seconds it took me to get his sister’s clothes and walk down the stairs, they both would arrive miraculously on time for carpool.

Hannah Grace, excited to change and put on more clothes, followed me up the stairs. Moving faster than she had in at least a week, she helped me whip off her shirt and pants and donned an outfit that said she was proud of that eighth of Irish blood in her.

When we reached the bottom of the stairs, I looked in horror at my son who had not performed the Jedi mind-trick of removing his first shirt without actually using his arms and replacing it with the one I threw down the stairs.

“Caleb! Why haven’t you changed?”

“This shirt isn’t green.”

“But it has green on it!”

My voice was getting a little shrieky. Clearly, Caleb didn’t understand the sense of urgency I was going for, as it was now 8:55. Clearly, he didn’t understand that the only reason I got him a new shirt was to prevent him from possibly getting pinched. It could happen. Preschoolers can be mean.

Caleb walked away as I began grabbing an assortment of bags of the book and diaper variety that I had previously piled up at the door. I unbuckled Chloe who had been sitting in her booster seat at the kitchen table while I had run from one room to the other. And, suddenly, Caleb emerged from the laundry room.

“I’m going to wear this one.”

In his hand was a beautifully green t-shirt. Perfect.

“Did you get that shirt from the laundry basket?” I asked suspiciously.

“No.”

“But you just came from the laundry room, and that shirt wasn’t in your drawer upstairs.”

“I got it from here.”

Caleb took me into the laundry room and pointed to a small pile of clothes on the floor that weren’t even good enough to make it into a basket.

Hmm. Even better.

I snatched the shirt out of his hands, gave it a quick look-over, smelled it, and tossed it back to him.

“Okay,” I agreed.

Caleb pulled the new shirt over his head, and we made our way out the door at 9:00 for the preschool carpool that was now just beginning. I ushered the older two into the van and ran to the other side with Chloe, who, of course, decided now was the perfect time to start the I-can-arch-my-back-so-far-you’re-going-to-drop-me routine. Once she was buckled, I started to run back to my seat when I noticed Tweedle-dee and Tweedle-dum staring at butterflies and rainbows in the air.

“Get buckled!” I insisted.

And for a moment, I started to panic. But then I remembered who caused this fiasco. I remembered the two times I hit snooze this morning, and I remembered how I chose ‘green’ as more important than ‘on time’. And as we headed toward the school, I relaxed as I remembered that carpool runs until 9:10, and if we arrived later, I’d simply walk the kids inside.

Every week since I started writing on the fruits of the Spirit, I’ve been tested. In fact, I can honestly say that I can’t wait until this study is over. I don’t like being tested, and I don’t like seeing how much I need to improve. Prior to having kids, I was gentle. I was kind and patient. After having three kids, my impulse is to freak out and speak harshly when things get chaotic.

And I know now that being gentle isn’t about cooing at a little baby or about how to handle china. It’s about my response to my daughter who stared at the garbage men in a comatose-like state for three full minutes in the middle of the driveway while everyone else was buckled in the van. It’s about the words that I held back when I found a mysterious wax-like substance melted into our newly cleaned carpets. It’s about the temper that I contained when my kids had their own St. Patrick’s Day parade in my bedroom with every gift bag and piece of tissue paper they could find. And it’s about my attitude when I was rocking my daughter to sleep at 10:10 p.m. while her daddy was out with his friend, and I had spent the last two hours trying to get her to stay in her room. ‘Gentle’ truly is a gift from God.

And ‘gentle’ is hard, but I’m getting better. I’m trying to look at life logically and see that the craziness of every day isn’t really all that big of a deal, but the tone of my voice when I speak to my children is.

I’m trusting that He will see this change through and am clinging to the promise that “he who began a good work in [me] will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:6).

And until that day I’ll keep practicing my deep breaths and counting to ten as I watch the applesauce hit the floor for the fourteenth time.

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law” (Galatians 5:22-23, New International Version, 2010). Emphasis mine

Journeys

Now it’s your turn! Link up with your own post on ‘gentleness!’

The Baseball Tradition: A Love Story

My family didn’t make it into the city very much, as my parents weren’t fans of crowds and traffic. We watched the ’96 Olympics from the T.V., and I can’t remember ever spending a weekend viewing Atlanta attractions. However, there was one exception: a baseball game.

I grew up hearing my father’s stories of baseball history and his favorite players. The Yankees were his team, and their rich tradition was one I loved to hear him share. From my father I learned of Joe DiMaggio’s hitting streak and his help with the war effort. I heard stories of DiMaggio’s undying love for his ex-wife Marilyn Monroe that caused him to lay flowers on her grave every day for years. The baseball players from years ago have stories that just can’t be duplicated.

When my family moved to Georgia 25 or so years ago, my dad needed a team to root for, so we became fans of the Atlanta Braves. To say they were horrible when I was a little girl doesn’t even cut it, but my father always said that anyone could root for a winner. We weren’t going to be fair-weather fans, and we cheered for the Braves when they were in last place. During the summer, our T.V. nights were spent watching baseball on TBS, and the love of baseball even brought us to Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium from time to time.

While my dad loves watching the game, he has his own history playing. He got a taste of his dream when he tried out in Yankee Stadium, but he wasn’t called to pitch for them. The Chicago White Sox had his name. They picked him for their farm team, but when dad threw out his arm, there was nothing more he could do. The fastball was his pitch, and not having the expert medical care that athletes have today, that injury ended his career.

And for years, the closest my dad came to passing on his knowledge was at a few seasons of my sister’s softball games. I spent ten years living my own sports dream as a gymnast, and so my dad cheered on stuck beam series and high-flying double-backs. The season of the fastball and homerun were no longer a part of his personal life.

Until he was given a grandson.

When Caleb walks to the on-deck circle, I know my father gets a little flurry of excitement. He gets to share some of his knowledge of the game with someone who can finally use it. But I have to wonder, as he looks on across the field, if it’s hard to cheer for the Mets after all his years as a die-hard Yankee fan.

Somehow, I don’t think it’s going to be a problem.

Mama's Losin' It

What love of sports does your family carry? And don’t forget to come back tomorrow and link up your own Journeys post on gentleness!