Saturday, September 8, 2018

Hold my Hand

Psalm 73
23Yet I am always with you;
you hold me by my right hand.
24You guide me with your counsel,
and afterward you will take me into glory.
25Whom have I in heaven but you?
And earth has nothing I desire besides you.
26My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart
and my portion forever.

I never been a touchy feely kind of girl. It is just not my “love language.” Acts of service is more my style. If I love you, better to bet on me trying to do something for you than a big old bear hug. So when I first started dating my notoriously huggy boyfriend at the age of 17, I had a lot of adjusting to do. Scott isn’t just affectionate with people he loves. He is affectionate to EVERYONE. He would hug the checkout person in Walmart if he thought she needed it.

What I did learn to like was what we could communicate to one another without saying a work. Scott has always been the rock in my storm. He can always sense what I am feeling and slide up to my side without a word. To put a hand on my back or grab my hand. He started this thing where he would grab my hand and squeeze  three times to mean “I love you.” Then I would squeeze three time back. No words. None needed. Sometimes all that stood between me and a mental panic attack was that hand. Grounding me and reminding me.

I don’t remember why, but it had been a hard day. I sat at my kitchen table (which was my parents) and felt like my heart was so very heavy with all the burdens I carried. It may have been a college issue. I slightly remember it being something about which direction I was heading in my life.

The sunlight streamed into the window and warmed my right hand. It felt good and reassuring. I closed my fingers one at a time and squeezed. At the time, I felt like it was God letting me know that everything is going to be alright. Soon after that I ran across this verse in Psalms 73:23 “Yet I am always with you, you hold me by my right hand.” My right hand felt warm again and I looked down. I slowly closed my hand and squeezed. I pictured His hand in mine and the world didn’t feel quite so scary.

This became the “thing” of mine to always close my right hand and squeeze when I felt like I needed Him to hold my hand. I would squeeze and breath. I would say in my head and sometimes out loud “I know. You got this.” I can’t explain it, but I felt it. I knew He wouldn’t let go.

I remembered this recently when I parked in the school parking lot (because I was walking my kids in and I know that I do not PARK in the drop off lane if I am getting out of the car). I grabbed Nick and Bella’s hands. I squeezed a little tighter when we approached the buses. Not that I thought they would let go and dart out into traffic, but it did make me feel better. I squeezed their hands as I approached the door. Told them I loved them and let them head down the stairs and in the building. I walked back to my van alone. A more than a little sad for the start of the new year and new things. Nick in kindergarten and Will starting high school. Luke starting middle school and Rachel staring into new adventures of more than a little girl. Even 3rd grade Bella with the start of getting a planner now has thrown me.

But as I walked across the pavement I felt a warmth in my right hand. I closed it and squeezed. Because I know that no matter where I go, I will always have Him there holding my hand. As we have our ups and downs to the start of new years and new opportunities I find myself sad and nostalgic. I have been thinking a lot about my dad more.

I know he would have adored Queen Rachel. Even at 2 he called her the princess. He would have loved the hard time she gives me and would have awarded her a double portion of everything just to give me a little payback. He would have told me to knock it off with babying Nick and made Bella laugh. He would be proud of my boys. He would tell me what he thought on matters small and large- whether I asked for the advice or not. He would be checking the brakes of my van because they are squeaking and yelled at me for the mess in the van.

Life goes on. Good things, no great things happen. Through the ups and downs and twists and turns, there is one thing  can be sure of. That the hand that formed the stars now holds my hand with the love of a Father. When I need a litte reassurance, I close that right hand and squeeze. A reminder to me that even in the darkness, I am never, ever alone.

Saturday, August 25, 2018

flashback 2009

Since Back to School has hit the Demi Family hard ( as Rachel put it), we are still on scrambling to survive mode. Since Will is now a freshman and Nick the baby is in kindergarten, I am not in a strong emotion place to sew together words into sentences, and not dissolve into a weepy mess. So I drug this one out. An oldie but goodie when I was putting Will on the bus for the fist time. Regulally scheduled program will return soon.

2009- Will goes to K (with pictures!)

Friday, August 17, 2018

tight rolled jeans with a side of teenage angst

New Living Translation
Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you your heart's desires
Psalm 37:4

                I found my middle school diary…, yeah. As it is quite obvious, I am a big fan of writing and expressing your ideas down on paper. Nevertheless, this is a skill I wish wouldn’t have evolved until high school at least. Also, after reading, I have discovered that perhaps Rachel has gotten her flair for the dramatic from her mom.

                My childhood crush. His jeans tight rolled, hair geled expertly off to the side, and denim jacket cuffed up. *13 year old girl swoon* He was perfect. He was gorgeous, funny, and if he didn’t ask me to be his girlfriend soon I might drown in a sea of depression. (I told you dramatic) The dance was this evening. Enter my best friend who was my partner in crime. I went to her house, got dressed up in her clothes because they were way cooler than mine. Anyone remember “Co-ed naked” shirts. I didn’t get innuendos back then any better than I get them now- but my dad sure did when I got home. I hair sprayed my hair as stiff as it could possibly go, put on some cherry lip smacker, and we were ready to do the electric slide  and Cold November Rain all night long. PS- If you didn’t grow up in the 80’s and 90’s you may have to google some of these references
                I won’t hold you in suspense. He didn’t like me. Although at one point he did talk to me. To see if I could give him my best friends phone number. Broken hearted, I cried into my pillow that night. But it wasn’t over yet. I would convince him that I was the girl for him. Enter the bible.

Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you your heart's desires
          WHA?!?!?!?!  So if I go to church every week (check), pray every day (mostly check), try to be a good person (check), God will give me the desire of my heart. I HAD found the Holy Grail. The solution to my middle school boy- who in my opinion was hotter than Jordan on New Kids on The Block- dilemma. I would ask God. Well, first I would “delight myself in Him” AKA church, pray, be good, and then he would give me the biggest desire of my heart. Tight rolled jeans boy. If I do this, then God will grant me that. Like the ultimate genie in a lamp. I just had to figure out the right way to rub it. One week went by… nothing. Surely soon. I prayed. I prayed/begged God that if he would only give me this one thing, let this one boy ask me to be his girlfriend, then I would go to church every Sunday for the rest of my life. Because that is what He wants right?

          Spoiler* I never got the boy. Looking back on the two and some decades (wow…I am old) since then, I can clearly see how that would not have been the best thing for me. The last thing I needed at that age was a pretend adult relationship. Let’s face it. Two weeks after girls met their dream come true guy they were sitting on the bleachers the next dance sobbing due to him now “going out” with someone else. Maybe someone who would go under the bleachers for him.

                As I look back now, with wider and more sober eyes and without a pre-teen heart washed in faux emotions, I can pin point all the garbage that God has kept me from by saying no. He had perspective. I did not. He wanted what was best for me ultimately. I wanted the quick pleasing moment. He lovingly told me no, and I stomped off into my room to sulk.

                Only in the Last couple of years has this verse and others been revealed so clearly to me that I wonder how I couldn’t have seen it before. I do realize actually. I used to read the Bible wondering about what it could do FOR me. Not TO me. I want the quick fixes. Motivational scriptures on my cups and walls. Recently I have found my Jesus is messy.

                Another version of this scripture is the contemporary English version that says
“Do what the LORD wants, and he will give you your heart's desire.” I truly wanted to do what the Lord wanted at this point. I loved Him and realized the undeniable grace and sacrifice it took to save me from myself. But I still had the second part of that scripture wrong. I couldn’t understand how if I was doing the good things, delighting and all that, why was I still not getting the desires of my heart. Why did I still not have this or that? Why did she get that instead and she doesn’t even know you?

                Then one day, The Holy Spirit whispered to my heart, and my entire perspective changed. This wasn’t an IF- THEN relationship. Not a direct cause and effect. It was a change in my heart perspective. IF I was delighting myself in the Lord, he would place NEW desires, HIS desires in my heart. This makes sense for a couple of reasons.

  1. I am a sinful human being. No sugar coating this. In this fallen world, we all fall short of the Glory of God. Whether you think you are missing the mark by a meter or a mile, you are still not enough. And will never be enough without the Son. We cannot redeem or pay the admission required to level the field with God. In comes the Blood of the Savior. My sinful nature cannot and should not be trusted. I want things I shouldn’t want and push things away I need. The book of Jeremiah further confirms the nature of man’s heart: “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9
  2. He is better at long range planning. He knows what is coming up and the tools I must have developed in order to survive this mission. He also knows what or who I don’t need. He can see the whole puzzle before I even open the box. He is seated in the best position.
  3. He know what desires would truly captive my heart. The place that only he can fill and only He knows about. I think I know, but really I have no idea. He meets me in a way that I would have never imagined asking for. Something outside of myself and what I would see in the realm of possibilities.

                How amazing is it that God desired to plant His desires in the hearts of men. That He relentlessly pursues and desires a relationship that will not only bring about His glory but will ultimate result in our healing, our passions fulfilled, and our direction determined. When we desire God, and not just desire the gifts He gives us, that is when things get real. We aren’t delighting ourselves in Him to get a set of steak knives (another 80’s reference), but we are delighting in Him because we adore Him. We are asking Him to draw us close enough to Him that we can hear the beating of His own heart. That we find joy and fulfillment in Him, and want to turn around and look for ways to share it with the people God places in our mists for this season.

                I also want to add that looking at how it all turned out, I am so glad I didn’t get what my 13 year old heart thought was essential, and have learned to temper my writing passions a little. Just a little.  

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Is anyone Up **flashback 2012

**A flashback to a writing I did in 2012. Still grateful my heavenly Daddy leaves the light on. 

I am not sure exactly when, but at some point in my young childhood my mom and dad decided that I was moving from my comfortable spot in bed with my two brothers to my very own bed. We were still in the same room. My single bed was turned sideways and against the bottom of their queen. Man, did I hate it. I would wait until my mom would tuck us all in. Wait for night prayers. Wait until she shut the door. Then I might try to fall asleep. But more times than not, I would jump out of my bed and into my brothers' bed. I would snuggle down in between them. I hated to sleep alone.

And when the girls got shipped out into the "hall" which was the room beside our bedroom, I would fall asleep comfortably with the light that shined up the stairs and into the room. That light was the tv that my dad had on nightly. I found such comfort in the fact that although I may be falling asleep, dad was up. I couldn't tell you what I was particularly afraid of. But whatever happened, I knew that dad was up and he would handle it.

I thought of that with my own son. He went through a stage where he would need us to fall asleep with him. He would ask "mom, are you still awake? Don't go to sleep without me." He still has problems falling asleep if his brother and sisters have fallen asleep first. He wants to know that someone is up. Someone is watching.

I thought of this as I read Psalm 121.....

I lift up my eyes to the mountains— where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord,  the Maker of heaven and earth.
He will not let your foot slip— he who watches over you will not slumber;
indeed, he who watches over Israel  will neither slumber nor sleep.

The Lord watches over you— the Lord is your shade at your right hand;
the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night.
The Lord will keep you from all harm— he will watch over your life;
the Lord will watch over your coming and going  both now and forevermore.

Thoughts of the boogie man don't plague my nights of slumber and worries of what is under the bed don't have me curling into my husband's back. No. But truth be told, I have real worries. How many times I have I wished I could just shut off my mind and drift off? How many times have the worries of the future stolen my peace and caused me many late nights. And truly, if I am being honest, how many times have I whispered in the dark, "Jesus, are you awake? I need you."

Just like when I was a child, I need someone bigger than me being awake when I slumber. I need someone stronger who can handle it, taking care of the boogie mans of the world, while I dream without a care. How reassuring to know that HE who watches over me will not slumber. He is awake! He is watching over my life, watching over me! Now and forevermore. 

This of course does not promise that everything is how I wish it to be. Of course, I can't always see the whole picture. But just the fact that I know my father is up and keeping watch....helps me rest easier.  

Friday, August 10, 2018

knock, knock

Do you know what you get when you mix ham plus pink milk mix and put it in the microwave for a you tube challenge? An angry mommy

It is my own fault. I violated the first rule of parenting. Silence is trouble. I was in my room cleaning when I hear Scott yelling. I run downstairs to see a red faced Scott and two little maniacs otherwise known as Nick and Haivyn. Apparently, the Littles decided they wanted to do their own you tube show on good vs. gross food. My dining room table was covered in egg shells, raw egg, buns, and an assortment of spices. The plan was to dip the buns in the raw egg, and then cook them in the microwaves.
Nick- “We were making egg sandwiches!”
Another clear example of you tube causing direct devastation.

Scott is yelling again. On episode 2 of Nick and Haivyn destroying the kitchen….
The smell of smoke was spreading throughout the house. The little chefs took a toy microwave and mixed chopped ham and pink milk mix together. They then put the toy microwave – with metal- in the real microwave and pushed start. Hence the smoke. 
Haivyn- "We were hungry."
Nick- "We were helping. We could get our own lunch." 

Needless to say, I was a little frustrated. Standing in the kitchen, I dramatically announced that “Mommy is going to take a bath. Leave me alone. Pretend I am at the store. Unless it is an emergency. Then come get me immediately." I went into the bathroom which is on my first floor where the kids were playing. I started the water, and kid you not, as soon as I touched the water, the power goes out. I pounded my head against the wall whispering “well played universe. Well played.” A gang of children come running into the bathroom. Thankfully the blackout lasted about 30 seconds. EMERGENCY! Thankfully, the lights returned in 30 seconds. 

I get into the bathtub and before I can even lean back I hear “Mommy, can I come in?” Bella.  “What do you want?” “I want you to show you this shirt that still fits me.” She comes in modeling a Christmas outfit.  “Looks good Bella.” She smiles big and goes skipping put the bathroom. Apparently "emergency" means different things to different people.

“MOM, want  to hear a joke?” Sigh and rolling my eyes, but because I am a good mom I yell “Sure.”
Nick “Knock, knock”
Me- “Whose there?”
Nick- “Chocolate”
Me- “Chocolate who?”
Nick- “Just chocolate!” hysterical giggling on the other side of the door.

Nick- “Mom, will you tell Haivyn that I can play…
Me- “Stop. Ok. Ok. I am getting out. “

My first baby is a freshman this year *tear* and my last baby *sniff* is in kindergarten. I KNOW that I miss them so very much when they are grown. But at least I will miss them with shaved legs, clean hair, and a functioning microwave.

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Can you see me?

 The rain pounded on the windshield and lightening flashed through the sky. Although I am a lover of springtime storms and rain is my favorite, I was not such a fan as I was driving back from Pittsburgh after visiting with the Miller family and welcoming baby Natalie into the craziness that is our loving family. Bella, Nick, and I were in the van following the rest of our crew. I had traveled out to Pittsburgh using Google Maps, but I had not turned it on since we were following Scott.
As the storm raged on, Bella begins to sob. If you have ever been a witness to a Bella meltdown, it is not a good time. She is overwhelmed, hard to reason with, and LOUD. Which was not appreciated as I was trying to navigate through the storm.
Me- “Bella, what is the problem?”
Bella- “We are going to die! I can’t see Daddy anymore!”
Which was true. In the driving rain and afternoon traffic, Scott’s car was no longer right in front of us.
Me- “Daddy is still in front of us. We will catch up. We just can’t see him.”
Bella- “But if you can’t see him, how do you know?”
Me- “Because I know Daddy. He would never leave us. Once the rain slows and he sees we are not right behind him he will pull over and wait. He would never leave us behind.”
She seemed to think this through with her little face in a mask of deep concentration. 2 glorious minutes of silence as I watch the back of the headlights and look for the familiar ones. Bella starts to cry again.
Me- with more frustration that I would like to admit- “WHAT NOW?”
Bella- “We are going to die! I don’t see Daddy!”
Me- “Isabella Noel! Do you trust me?
Bella- who paused way longer than I liked- “yes.”
Me- “Would I ever let anything happen to you?”
Bella- “No.”
Me- “Ok then. Trust me now. Daddy is in front of us. We can’t see him but I know he is there. You know I would never let anything happen to you. Now sit there and let me do the job you trust me to do!”
She quiets. I see Scott pulled over at the side of the road.
Bella- “Mommy, you were right! There is Daddy”

I am happy to report that we all made it home safely. However, Bella will be traveling with Daddy next trip….
 Can I be honest with ya’all? Sometimes I have no idea where I am going. Whether it is in the middle of a lecture with my kids, a lesson with my students, or a conversation with my husband, sometimes I don’t know where I am heading. How often have you thought… Now, where was I going with that?
God knows where we are going. Even when I don’t see him, I know his character and I know that he is there. I can say with confidence that He will never leave me. Never expect me to figure it out and for that I am grateful.
Sometimes in the storms of my life I may feel scared. I may not SEE God in front of me. It may even cross my mind to pull over and try and figure this thing out. However, I do know a few things which leads me to continue on.  I trust that my Father loves me and He is in front. He would never send me to a place that he has not secured ahead of time. Just like I knew Scott was there even though I didn’t see” him, I know God is there whether  there I recognize his presence or not. He would never let me go off on my own. He loves me too much.

In this trip I also worked through what I imagine the frustrations of God. I can see me throwing  a temper tantrum like Bella.  But God don’t you know….can’t you see…How can I possibly….. And God shouts out “Theresa Marie! Do you trust me?”

Just like my sweet Bella, my mind flashed through situation after situation where God has been faithful. He picked me up that time. He saved me from my own darkness that time. He was better to me that I deserved after I disappointed him that time. Do I trust Him enough to place my life in his hands and say come what may,  "I trust you God.”

Monday, June 11, 2018

Day 1

Day 1

I am awakened by the shrieking and piercing hounds of hell. Or my alarm clock that I forgot to turn off. Even thought that first shriek was hitting hard….how sweet did it feel to shut off the alarm and lay back down. I don’t go over my strategy for the day or wonder how I am going to fit it all in. I am OFF  **CUES THOSE BABY ANGELS**  Every time a teachers reaches summer break, an angel gets its wings. Wrong movie? Wrong book? I think this makes sense cause these Angels are going to need some serious wings to chase these kids. I know. I chased them for 8 months!

Here in our little world we like to play a game called who can sleep the longest. Here is how it works. You wake up, you go back to sleep. First one out of bed loses, The first day of summer Looser.  Always good to start the first day of summer with extra sleep for us and tears for the little ones who physically must jump up because “THE SUN MOMMY!!!!!”

What did our first day of summer look like? Me sweeping down the steps and Scott making eggs and bacon. Running down to mom’s to hold angel face Wes, and then ordered pizza cause….first day of summer and all. Then we go back down to Grammy’s for the kids to continue to play outside until I have to call it. Street lights are on and time to roll.

I only thought about school 3 times and have ALREADY LOST TRACK OF WHAT DAY OF THE WEEK IT IS.