Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Unanswered prayers

Have you ever heard the song "Unanswered Prayers" by Garth Brooks?

It's about a man who takes his wife back to a football game at his old high school and while they're there, they see his old high school girlfriend. He remember how he used to pray to God every night and ask that they would be together, and as he watches his wife talked to his old girlfriend, he realizes how thankful he is that God didn't answer his prayers the way he wanted.

We often wonder why God doesn't answer our prayers the way we want.

Jeremiah 29:11 is one of my favorite verses in the Bible. It says, "For I know the plans I have for you," says the Lord, "They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a hope and a future." (NLT)

God tells us that His plans for our lives are good.
Two things in that verse stand out to me. First, the plans are God’s. They are not ours. Sometimes our plans and His plans are the same, but sometimes they are not. We have trouble reconciling the two because we want God’s plans to go according to our plans. The second thing I notice is that God says his plans are “good and not for disaster”. No matter how it seems at the time, God’s plans are for our good. They will not destroy us; they will prosper us! God has promised that He will work things out for our good--

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28 (NIV)

So, if God “interrupts” your plans to put His own into action, don’t worry. Be shocked, be surprised, be amazed or astounded, but don’t worry. He always has your good in mind and someday—maybe not right this second, but someday—you will realize how much better His plans were than yours and hopefully, you will thank Him for not giving you what you thought you wanted.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Who's that lady?

We call her Granny. The shortest, feistiest granny in the Southwest(VA)! She's pretty sick right now, but every now and then, we catch a glimpse of the "old" granny in there. A sparkle in her eye or that mischievous look she gets when she's about to say something funny.

She has 5 children, 11 grandchildren and 18 great-grandchildren (if I counted right). She has been married to our Grandad for 64 years. She's been a Sunday School teacher and she's also been dragged from UMWA picket lines to jail. She is a quite a character.

And we love her more than words can say.

I guess the most important thing in regards to Granny is that she is my daddy's mother. Duh, right? But she didn't have to be. She was a little bit older when she became pregnant with my dad and the doctor suggested that she terminate the pregnancy for her own sake. And, of course, she didn't. She risked it and raised a wonderful man who became my father!

Granny makes it clear that she loves us (she tells us so 1,000,000x when we're with her), but she never mollycoddled me when I was younger. I have never enjoyed staying away from home and I always tortured myself trying to decide whether to stay at Granny and Grandad's or go home. I wanted to stay, but I wanted to go. Sometimes, I would go back and forth for an hour crying and throwing myself at my parents and then running down the driveway after my grandparent's car. Most of the time, I ended up going and at some point during the stay, I would cry. "I miss my mommy. I miss my daddy." Granny would always kind of chuckle and say, "Oh, Leah, it's ok!" or point out how brave my little sister was. By that point, she was probably dying to send me home, but she put up with me anyways.

Granny makes the best picnic lunches. You know, most families make sandwiches or take fried chicken or something like that. Not granny. She would get a paper grocery bag and fill it with cans of Beanie Weenees, Vienna sausages, sardines, snack cakes, crackers--basically everything in the cupboard and take it along. Those were the best picnics I have ever had.
She also makes the best oatmeal! I'm not sure what all she puts in it, but I know there is a lot of butter. I've tried to make it at home, but it never tastes quite the same. When I was as young as 8, I would eat at least 2 bowlfuls of the stuff (to be fair, I was kind of chubby).

My grandparents are madly in Love with each other. Like Edward and Bella in love (except he's not a vampire and....oh nevermind). My sister always says that they're like Alli and Noah in "The Notebook". He will hardly leave her side and tells her he loves her or that she's beautiful every 2.5 seconds. Just yesterday, Grandad was asking Granny for "some sugar" and she was more than glad to give him some. If it was my own parents, I would say, "Ewwww, gross!" but with my grandparents, it's so touching that you want to watch, but feel like you should turn your head and give them some privacy.

On the night Kade was born, Granny came to the hospital to wait. At this time, one of her feet bothered her a lot and she wasn't walking all that much. It got later and later and my aunt and uncle suggested that they go home, but she said she was fine. Kade was born at 12:15 am and Granny waited in front of my hospital room, eager to see her newest great grandson. She is still always happy to see him. She asks about him constantly and always seems to perk up when he's around. On Saturday, she was pretty incoherent, but when I carried Kade into the room, her eyes got big, she focused on him and said, "Kade!" I'm glad he's gotten to know his Granny.

Everyone should have a Granny, but not everyone does, and for that, I know I'm blessed. No matter how old I get, I'll need my Granny. No matter how old I am, I'll always pick up the phone on Christmas morning just to hear her say, "Did you hear those reindeer on the roof last night?" and play along. I'll see a Pizza Hut and remember how many slices of super supreme pizza she can eat. When I get old and my statuesque 5'2" body has shrunk to 4'11", I'll blame it on her. When my grandchildren dig around in my dresser drawers to find my secret stash of candy, I'll think of her. Every time I pack a picnic lunch, I'll think of her. Every time I play in a creek or eat red velvet cake. Every holiday, birthday, and anniversary. No matter how old I am. No matter how old she is. No matter how long I have her. She's my Granny.

I love you, Granny.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Under pressure......

Admittedly, I have a lot to live up to when it comes to parenting. I've been blessed with two wonderful parents who have always taken care of all my needs--physically, emotionally, and spiritually. I'm not worried about the two loving parents part or providing food, clothing, or shelter for my children. I can do that 100% without a doubt.

But how do I raise Godly children?

How did my parents do it? It's always baffled me. Somehow I managed to not do anything totally stupid and to stay relatively close to God during my growing up years. Other people I know whose parents taught them the same things and held them to the same standards have turned out totally different. So, it couldn't be completely on the parent's shoulders, could it? Yet, I want to ensure that my children choose eternity with Jesus. That's a scary responsibility, but even more frightening to think that it could be out of my control.

Was it the music we listened to? Was it devotionals before bed? Was it going to church every time the doors were open? Was it the things that I wasn't allowed to see, do, or hear?
So many questions, but it scares me to death to think that I could somehow "mess up" this "train up a child in the way he should go" thing. I don't just want to contribute an intelligent, responsible, productive member of society. I want to send out another soldier for the army of God. I want my children to want to do right and to be hungry for God and His Word.

I asked Jesus into my heart when I was 3 years old. I still remember it. I knew exactly what I was doing. I knew who Jesus was and what He had done for me. How do I make sure that Kade has that same understanding? I don't expect him to ask Jesus into his heart at 3 years old. I just want to make sure he knows and understands who Jesus is.

This isn't one of those posts where I have a concrete answer at the end. I feel like all I can do is my best, but somehow, that doesn't seem good enough.

All I know is that when I look into these precious little eyes, I want him to have what I have. I want him to feel real joy and real love. Not just the joy and love that the world gives, but the indescribable, immeasurable love and joy of Jesus.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

The veggies of my labor.....

I like the outdoors. I like to swim, lie in the sun, go for walks and picnics, but I have never had an interest in gardening. Not vegetables. Not flowers.

My mom fixed these beautiful flower beds in front of our house and I didn't touch them till a year after we bought our house. Yeah.....

I don't know if I'm just growing up or if it's the mom in me, but this year, I decided I wanted to plant a vegetable garden. I researched different veggies, and when and how to plant them. We bought seeds way back in February. I was so excited!Of course, planning a garden and and actually planting a garden are two very different things. Throw a 10 month old into the mix and the gardening thing becomes......a little more difficult. I've done my best, though.

I try to keep it up, but I can't get out everyday and weed and hoe it. Actually, until yesterday, it looked like a field of overgrown grass with bigger plants growing in places. That is, until my wonderful dad came down and hoed most of it for me! (Thanks dad!) Of course, this was while my awesome mama was keeping Kade and I occupied with swimming and naps and dinner! She's pretty great, too (though I won't post a picture of her swimming with Kade because she might be mad)!

Kade loves the pool, even though *ahem* we have baptized him twice already.

Back to my garden, though. I went back out this morning to try to finish hoeing it and my precious son decided to be cooperative and let me work for a whole hour while he played in his Pack n' Play in the shade. He is such a good boy! I think he was even had fun!

And now, my garden looks like a garden.
I can't take all the credit, though!
So, here's to all the little (and bigger) people!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Just not feelin' it....

I'm just not feelin' it today.

Ever have one of those days?

The sun is out, the breeze is gently blowing, my house is relatively clean, Kade is napping,
but all I can do is sit here slumped on the couch.

It was a rough night last night. Kade didn't go to sleep till 11 and then woke up at 12:30, 3:30, 5, 6, and 7. I think he's teething again. He's got all the classic symptoms: drooling, fussiness, and gnawing on everything in sight. *sigh*

So, maybe I'm just exhausted.
Maybe I need a cup of coffee.
Or some Ben & Jerry's.

I will make it through this day. I will make it through this day. I will make it through this day.

...But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not be faint." (Isaiah 40:31)

Ahhhh. Now that's what I need!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Don't be a drive-thru parent......

We live in a world that tries to cater to everyone. It's all about convenience. We want the quickest and easiest way to do something, whether it be eating, shopping, sleeping, going to church, making money, etc. There's a drive-thru for everything! We've gotten so used to this world of convenience that we don't know what to do when we can't just snap our fingers and have what we want.

I've learned something since I became a mother. Parenting and children are not always convenient. They cry when we wish they would sleep, they want to eat when we'd like to be doing things around the house, they get into things they shouldn't get into, they make messes we have to clean up, they throw up, sneeze, cough, wipe boogers, and get poop and pee on you.

Parenting is hard.
I know/know of all kinds of soon-to-be mothers right now, and I beg you not to be a drive-thru parent.
You didn't carry a baby for 9 months just to make sure it gets fed, diapered, clothed, and off to pre-K by 3 years old.
God (whether you believe in Him or not) gave you the ultimate privilege of being a parent to the cutest, smartest baby in the world. It is a privilege AND it is a responsibility.
Listen to your instincts and not to the advice of every Tom, Dick, Harry, and even grandma who tells you what is "best" for your baby.

Just a couple things:

Some mothers honestly are not able to breastfeed, but others "try" for a day or so, until a nurse or some well meaning friend or relative says, "It's okay to use formula. It's exactly the same as breastmilk." Breastfeeding is hard. Everyone who does it is in pain at first. In the beginning, it often feels as if your whole life is being spent on the couch with a baby attached to you. It is inconvenient. Sometimes babies want to eat when you are out in public and you have to either find a quiet place to nurse or go home. It's a sacrifice.

Guess what, though? After awhile, the pain goes away and the baby doesn't eat as often. You've given him/her an incredible gift as far as health and immunity and you get to enjoy quiet moments of looking down at your precious baby and knowing that you are the one nourishing him/her and helping him/her grow.

A well known fact about babies is that they cry. They cry when they're hungry, wet, dirty, sleepy, bored, and restless. They might even just want you to hold them. They don't have any other way to communicate with you. If you can't figure out what it is they want, just hold them. Don't lay them down in their cribs to figure themselves out. When you do that, and they go to sleep, it's not because they're ok. They're emotionally defeated. They've given up on you. After a few nights of that, why even cry for you? They know you're not going to come back.

"Good," you might say, "that's what I wanted. Now, we can all get some sleep."

Here's my way of thinking. They're not in Wal-Mart, throwing a fit because they want a toy and you won't buy it for them. We're talking about infants here. They just want you. Or maybe they don't know what they want. It's not a sin to hold them. You won't "spoil" them. One day, you may even regret not holding them as often as you could.

It's really easy to use Ferber or some other method to make your baby go to sleep by himself/herself. Real convenient. I just can't do it to my 10 month old son.

Someday, my son will sleep in a bed, he won't nurse, and he will be too big to hold.
For now, he is my baby. Even when Kade is having the roughest of nights, even when it's 12 am and he's awake for the third time, Michael and I look at each other over his head with tears in our eyes and say, "I love him!"

Psalm 127:3 says, "Children are a heritage from the Lord, The fruit of the womb is a reward."

They are gifts. Precious, tiny, guileless, guiltless gifts.
Treat them as such.
They're not trying to manipulate you.
Don't do the easiest thing just to get by.