Friday, September 30, 2011

Sweet Wisdom

One time, long ago, when my older children were very young, my friend, Tara, and I decided that it would be fun to let our kids decorate sugar cookies with colored frosting and sprinkles.  We baked the cookies while the children destroyed everything in sight played happily nearby; we prepared multiple bowls of colorful icing and placed the sugar sprinkles on the table—all while envisioning the delightful scene which was to take place: a childhood memory was about to be birthed for our wee ones. I had remembered decorating cookies with my mom and I was tickled to be creating this opportunity for my own family. 

Because I was a fairly new mom and still wet behind the ears, I was trying to do this whole childhood thing correctly.  I had read that “children need traditions”,  so I called Tara and asked her to bring over her boys to help me start creating “something my kids could look forward to year after year”.

Guess how this whole scene played out?   It was an EPIC FAIL  (I can use those words because I have been a mother for a lot longer now and those are the kinds of things my teenagers say, so I say them too just to try to be cool…or rad…or sick…or phat…or whatever words mean groovy now).  It did not turn out the way I had envisioned.  In fact, it was supremely stressful, amazingly messy and really just not that much fun.  And the cookies were really ugly.

Why did my vision of cherubic rapture dissipate so quickly?  It fell to pieces for several reasons, and here they are: 

1.  Kids at age 3 and 1 are not ready to decorate sugar cookies.  When the children are not coordinated enough to stay on their chairs without falling off, they are not coordinated enough to spread frosting on Santa.

2.  I couldn’t force tradition.  Traditions develop over years of shared—and enjoyed (this being the key word) activities.  Traditions don’t normally involve unpleasant words such as “If you put any more frosting in your sister’s hair, I’m getting out the spankin’ paddle!”

3.  I was trying to create an experience for my children that I thought was a necessary ingredient to a happy childhood.  What I didn’t realize was that I had several more messy impressionable years in which to fit these childhood experiences into.  I did not have to introduce my children to all of my childhood experiences before they went to kindergarten.  If we do all these “kid things” with ours too early, they’ll never remember any of them. And you’ll be really crabby because of their immaturity.  Your kids are probably not exceptionally advanced even if they watch Baby Einstein every day and listen to Mozart at naptime.  Face the facts, they are CHILDREN.

And here is what I learned from this exhausting experience: 

1.  I just needed to relax and enjoy my kids by letting them set the pace.  At 3 and 1, even coloring together or picking up fallen leaves was a joy for them; It was a simple joy. Toddlers need simple.  Toddlers do not need Martha Stewart.

2.  Traditions evolve.  The traditions that you remember from your childhood may not be the traditions that you develop with your own kids—and that’s OK.  Your kids will ask you to do certain things that they associate with different seasons and you will do those things—no sense in forcing what no one enjoys or doing things that destroy your kitchen.

3.  If you let kids have enough time to just play—really play (not organized sports and activities), they will experience childhood in all of it’s innocent glory.  You can still think of things to do with them and create experiences to stimulate their sponge-like minds, but the happiest times will come to them when they feel the most free to be themselves.

So, here is my advice to all of you young moms out there feeling panicked about not “doing it right”.  RELAX. 

You ARE doing it right if you let your schedule and your planned itinerary disappear when your little one says, “Mommy, play?”. 

And you ARE excelling if, when in your exhausted state, you put your little one to bed at night and you appreciate her perfection and God’s provision for undeserved blessing and love.

RELAX.

ENJOY THEM.

SAY THANK YOU TO GOD EVERY DAY FOR THE PRIVELAGE OF RAISING HIS KIDS.

 

Sons are a heritage from the LORD,
   children a reward from him.

Like arrows in the hands of a warrior
   are sons born in one’s youth.

Blessed is the man
   whose quiver is full of them.

Psalm 127:3-5

Monday, September 26, 2011

Adolescent Adoration

82.  That’s how many teenagers I have fed in the last 10 days.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I love it when my kids ask a few of their friends (or 50) to come hang out at the house.  And I love feeding them because they are so appreciative.  They may not express this appreciation with words, but a mother of teenagers can tell; this morning, one young man ate four large sticky buns and then took a picture of the rest of them with his phone.  I’m not sure if he did this to send it to his buddies to make them jealous or to remind him of his good fortune, but I knew it meant, “I love these sticky buns with all my heart”, and it blessed my heart that he adored my cooking.

So, if you are wondering why my posting has been so sporadic lately, or why I am not doing a ‘member that time today, I am probably loading or unloading my dishwasher, or, Heaven forbid, washing the too-large pots and pans by hand.

Or maybe I’m making more sticky buns and feeding them to teenage boys to get another ego boost.

But probably, I’m sleeping because it takes a bunch of energy to roll out dozens of sticky rolls at 4:20 in the morning.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Joy Personified

18 years ago today I didn’t know I could love a little girl as much as I loved my little boy…

18 years ago today, I didn’t know what sunshine would fill my house when she smiled…

18 years ago today, I didn’t know how much her happiness would infect the entire family…

18 years ago today, I didn’t know how infatuated I would become with her irresistible innocence…

18 years ago today, I didn’t know that this cute, funny little girl we were raising would become a beautiful, driven young woman that I love with my whole heart.

Happy 18th Birthday, Tess Michelle.  You are joy personified!

You will go out in joy
   and be led forth in peace;
the mountains and hills
   will burst into song before you,
and all the trees of the field
   will clap their hands.

Isaiah 55:12

Monday, September 19, 2011

‘member that time?

‘member that time in Mrs. Justice’s 7th grade homeroom when I challenged all the boys to an arm wrestling competition?  And member how over the course of a week of homerooms, I beat every single one of them?

And member how proud I was of myself? 

What I dork I was.  I guess I wasn’t really into femininity at that point.  I guess I wasn’t very into boys either since they all stayed away from me after that.

Or maybe it was the whole cooties thing.  I guess I’ll never know.

Maybe Paige wants to arm wrestle me too.  We all know she’d likely win.  Check out her ‘member that time at  http://teamvanvoorst.blogspot.com/

Saturday, September 17, 2011

He loves me!

Psalm 17:8 says,

“Keep me as the apple of your eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings.”

After I read that verse today, my heart leapt as I realized He loves me—He really loves me!

And He loves you too.  He really does. Believe it.

 featherspic

He will cover you with his feathers. He will shelter you with his wings. His faithful promises are your armor and protection.

  Psalm 91:4

Friday, September 16, 2011

Security

Here’s something I stole from my friend Anna’s blog, Reckless Trust, because I thought it was so excellent.  Anna, thanks for the reminder that God has a plan for me and it is a GOOD plan.

"There’s good news today: He has a plan! And his plan is good and his plan isn’t one-dimensional and finite like yours because all you can really do with your plan is figure out your best days. You can only control the things you can control. So not only can you not control outside influences, you don’t have any sort of capacity to control evil. But God’s plan is a good plan. God’s plan takes the best shot from his archenemy, Satan, infiltrating the inner circle of Jesus, having Judas betray Jesus and hand him over for the purpose of the King being assassinated. And God doesn’t do evil, he uses evil. God has a plan. Jesus has a plan. My hope today is that you’ll change your perspective, you’ll reverse your default mode of looking at your plan, and you’ll begin to understand who you are in Jesus’ plan because he loves you. And his plan is good." - Dave Bruskas

LORD, you have assigned me my portion and my cup;
   you have made my lot secure.
The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;
   surely I have a delightful inheritance.

Psalm 16:5-6

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The Butter Cat

My new cat eats the butter. 

He’s really not supposed to be in the house but we all bring him in occasionally because he is so dang cute.  Cute—and bratty—all at the same time;  cute because he looks like a miniature Lynx and he is super playful, and bratty because, even though he is the smallest of the three cats (and the youngest), he uses Alpha cat intimidation to get his own way—like taking over Molly’s house atop a loft that she has inhabited for about 10 years now.  She used to spend about 23 1/2 hours there each day, and now she lays under the car—scared and bitter.  Anyway, back to the butter; if I happen to leave the top off the  tray, Pitot (it’s pronounced Pito—like pita except with an o) licks the top of the butter until I catch him.  If the butter is covered, he just licks around the sides where the butter has been.

Needless to say, I think this is gross.  And Pito receives a scolding every time I see him doing it.  And I either cut off the licked section of the butter or wash the outside of the butter tray to remove his kitty germs.  But even though it’s disgusting (not to him, obviously) and even though I continue to swat him for his actions, he keeps right on jumping on the counter to taste this elicit snack.  He loves it that much.  He loves it so much that he is willing to suffer discipline to have it.

Sometimes, when I am angry…or tired…or sick, I just let my words fly out of my mouth because it feels good to say them.  I don’t capture my thoughts first and make them obedient.  I just do what I want because my will is stronger than my devotion to God.  When I do this, I am showing God who I love the most…and it’s me.

Sometimes, when I see another mom raising her kids in a way that is different in the way that I raise mine, I rush to judge her because I think the way I do things is the best way.  I forget to stop and see her with the eyes of Christ.  I forget to put my pride below my ego.  When I do this, I am showing God who I love the most…and it’s me.

When I do these things, I know that they are wrong, but doing the right thing, thinking the right way, is so much work and I am so tired.  In renting terms, I would just rather lose my deposit, than to spend time cleaning up my apartment myself—it’s too hard and it takes too much time—and look at the mess I’ve made.  I know that I will have to pay for it later (or forfeit my deposit—my blessing—my ability to create holy holes—to see God’s face more clearly), but right now, I think, God isn’t important enough to me to honor.

How do I get beyond this—this drive to satisfy my will--this lazy approach to my “real” life?  How do I set God’s ways as my default? 

I’m not sure what the answer is.  But I am encouraged that God isn’t finished with me yet.  Until I figure it out, I will try to train myself to love the Word instead of the world.  And I will continue to seek Him first thing every day.  Looking to Him is the way that I change into the new creation that He promises I will be.

Maybe next year, for the state fair, I will make a butter cat with all the contaminated stuff I cut off of the sticks Pitot licks.  Or maybe I will just put the butter in the fridge and save myself some work.

 

…being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

Philippians 1:6

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Living Hope

dad and neo (4)

This is a picture of the things in the window over my kitchen sink.  This scene is fascinating to me for three reasons:

1) Cole picked that flower for me over a month ago and it still going strong 

2) It has produced roots and appears to be thriving on plain water

3)  It is sitting right beside the word ‘Hope’ that one of my kindergarten D6 students gave me for Christmas last year.

I think there’s a lesson here somewhere.  And I think this is what it is:

That flower doesn’t know it is supposed to live in the dirt.  It appears to believe that plain water is just as tasty.  It is now producing a bud even though it’s environment seems to be less than ideal.  To suck up as much water as possible, the miracle plant has produced an inordinate amount of roots and these roots are what is keeping it alive.  No matter which way I turn it, super zinnia always is leaning toward ‘hope’.  I look at the healthy green leaves on this thing every day and I can’t understand why it keeps living.  The possibility of a flower surviving—and thriving--on my windowsill for 5 weeks is against all odds. 

I think God might be saying that if we put our hope in Him, even when we don’t understand him or comprehend what He is doing, He will not only help us survive, but He will help us thrive and grow when the world tells us give up and die.  When we put our hope in Jesus, and keep our eyes on the Author and Perfecter of our faith, we can sink our roots deep in His Truth. He is our living water.

I know that all sounds a tad cliché and churchy, and it is a little cliché and churchy, but that’s ok ‘cause I have a miracle flower and I can preach if I want to.  I think it’s super neat.  And I’m not sure how I’ll interpret the whole thing when it dies…but until then, I will enjoy the living hope in my window.

“If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.”

John 7:37-38

Monday, September 12, 2011

‘member that time?

‘member all those times when we lived in Clinton and we only had one bathroom?  And member how Tanya and I would always race there at the same time and if I sat down to go first, she would say, “You better go really fast or else I’ll sit on top of you and pee!” (well, she did sit on me more than once, but I squeezed out before you-know-what). And member how I learned to speed pee because of her disgusting threat? 

She never did pee on me, or on Teri, as far as I know, and I learned that this speed skill was really useful during 3 minute pastimes in middle school.  Or during short commercial breaks when a really fascinating “Little House on the Prairie” was on.

So, just remember when you are persecuted, you might learn a really valuable skill that will aid you in your future life as a normal person. 

Just thought you’d like to know.

Let’s see what Paige thinks.  It’s member that time Monday at http://teamvanvoorst.blogspot.com/

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Real Security

I read Psalm 46 yesterday and was surprised how applicable it was to the 10th anniversary of 9/11/01.  Things of the earth may fall away, but God will always be our fortress.

 God is our refuge and strength,
   an ever-present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
   and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam
   and the mountains quake with their surging.

There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
   the holy place where the Most High dwells.
God is within her, she will not fall;
   God will help her at break of day.
Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall;
   he lifts his voice, the earth melts.

The LORD Almighty is with us;
   the God of Jacob is our fortress.

Come and see the works of the LORD,
   the desolations he has brought on the earth.
He makes wars cease to the ends of the earth;
   he breaks the bow and shatters the spear,
   he burns the shields with fire.
“Be still, and know that I am God;
   I will be exalted among the nations,
   I will be exalted in the earth.”

The LORD Almighty is with us;
   the God of Jacob is our fortress.

Psalm 46

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Pure Gold

Life has been hectic lately in the Haverkamp house, and I notice that when I get busy, the first thing to go is my time in the Word; sad, but true. 

After reading the book Radical by David Platt, I decided that this nonchalant regard for the Word of God must change.  The Word MUST take precedence over email.  The Word MUST take precedence over Facebook.  The Word MUST take precedence over MSNBC.  The Word MUST take precedence over really good Christian books and really cool cooking sites like Pioneerwoman.com.  Platt says it this way;

“God has chosen by his matchless grace to give us revelation of himself in his Word.  It is the only Book that he has promised to bless by his Spirit to transform you and me into the image of Jesus Christ.  It is the only Book that he has promised to use to bring our hearts, our minds, and our lives in alignment with him…When you or I open the Bible, we are beholding the very words of God—words that have supernatural power to redeem, renew, refresh, and restore our lives to what he created them to be.” 

What a powerful tool we hold in our hands!  The Word has the power to change our very lives!  Vanity Fair may give you ten easy steps to achieve attractiveness, increase your intellect, and optimize last night’s left-overs, but The Word of God contains the keys to inner beauty, true insight, and the rich delicacies of His blessings.

So…here’s the challenge: For one month, let the Word of God be the first thing that your eyes see in the morning.  Instead of rushing to get your fix of the morning paper, new email, or other people’s blogs, delight in the fact that the God of the Universe wants to speak to you.  Sit with Him and drink it in…pure Gold.

Brent and I are taking the challenge.  Who’s with us? 

“If we want to know the glory of God, if we want to experience the beauty of God, and if we want to be used by the hand of God, then we must live in the Word of God.”—Radical

Your word is a lamp to my feet
   and a light for my path.

Psalm 119:105

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

‘member that time?

I know it’s a Tuesday, and ‘member that times are supposed to post on Mondays, but since yesterday was a holiday, we are going to pretend it’s Monday today, OK?

‘Member that time when I had a little boy and he was perfect in every way and he made all my dreams come true?  And member how he dressed like an army man and rode his bike and explored in the forest with Greg?  And member how much he liked playing in the cornfield behind the house after the farmer had harvested and there were still some stalks left behind?  And how Brent used to read Little House on the Prairie to him at bedtime until they both fell asleep on the bottom bunk?  member that? 

Yeah, me too.  And I enjoyed every single minute of it.  What a gift from God!

Happy 20th Luke!

You have made known to me the path of life;
   you will fill me with joy in your presence,
   with eternal pleasures at your right hand.

Psalm 16:11