Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Love is a Battlefield...Love is War...

I sat in a youth building listening to a church worship band rehearse for this Sunday's service.  Every song had the word "love" in it.  I have to admit that I cringed when I heard the guy on the keyboard say, "This week, so and so is going to preach on the love of God."  Not that I don't believe in, feel, or experience the love of God.  But because I know there is HUGE potential for MASSIVE conviction if I dare listen to a sermon on love.

I have made LOVE my goal...my aim...my aspiration over the past 4 years of my life.  I learned in April of 2009 that my newly adopted son knew nothing about LOVE or how to LOVE a momma.  So, I set about to "love him out of his bad mood."

As most of you know...that didn't work.

Joe and I have attended conferences, read books, watched DVDs ...all in the hopes of teaching us how to parent George - who so obviously and clearly feels the OPOSITE of love toward me. These human techniques and words of human wisdom are not working either.

Again and again, I am reminded gently by God that it truly is all about LOVE when it comes to George.

And our love...this love...is a fight...a battlefield...and some days an out and out war. 

Here is a short story to illustrate the BATTLE that wages inside George...between myself and George...and between myself and God: 

We (our whole family) bless George with his very own MP3 player.  This happens because Eleanor has earned a new iPod.  She passes down her MP3 to her brother, who in turn passes his on to his sister...who in turn rather graciously gives hers to George.  George has no ear buds or headphones.  Said sister, lets George use her very nice (special birthday present) headphones every day.  But...not good enough for George.  He asks to do some extra jobs around the house to earn money.  I happily give him a chore - which he completes - and I give him his earned money right away.  George then asks to go to T*rget with me...I say, "Of course!"

He looks at ear buds for probably 26 minutes while Eleanor and I do other shopping.  He asks "Can I buy these Darth Vadar ear buds?"  I say, "Of course!"

As we walk to the check out line, he decides he doesn't want to spend his money.

We go home.

About 26 minutes later, George comes riding into the garage on his scooter announcing, "Look what I found!  Just lying on the street over there!"

You guessed it...ear buds.

Does the kid think I am stupid?

Obviously he does.

I ask, "Where did you get those?"

"On the street."

He is adamant. 

I press.  I ask more questions.  I tell him I am having a hard time believing him. 

He insists.

I then lay down the law and tell him..."I am SURE someone is going to want their ear buds back.  Please go back to "the street" and put them back exactly how you found them.  Someone may have been running and dropped them...or someone accidentally lost them as they were riding their bike.  That person WILL come back and look for those ear buds."

Instantly, George is a monster.  A green, fuming, steaming monster.  He is SO ANGRY with me.

This is not my first rodeo...in fact, I just start to vacuum so I don't have to hear him yell all the hate-filled words meant for me.

He settles - but this is after ripping apart a book I gave him, telling me he is no longer my son, threatening (AGAIN!!!) to call 911 - seriously - if there is a cop who is reading this and can actually come to my house and teach George a lesson in this area - please talk to me!!!  Then, he tells me he is no longer my son.  He is going to "rip off Anna's head" and "tell Isabel she is a fatso!"

Here is where LOVE becomes WAR for me.  I must FIGHT TO LOVE GEORGE.  Maybe it is because he has done this for 4 years?  Maybe because I simply am tired and want to just throw in the towel with this child?  In that moment - I fight.  Sometimes I don't fight well...and I just give up for an hour or two.  Today...through the leading of the Holy Spirit...I fought.  Now, my fighting is NOT yelling, spanking, threatening or harming George.  I have to FIGHT to show this child the love of Christ.

I have said it often...I have learned that it is not and will never be MY motherly, human love that brings peace and healing to George's life.  It is God using me as a vessel - or a conduit - to pour God's love into George's life.  Frankly, I don't have enough love in me to even fake it with George most days.

But God does.....His love is amazing and powerful and healing....and constantly pursuing us.  And God has asked me to do this part for Him while I am on this earth...pour out that amazing and powerful and healing LOVE into a small, broken child. 

Lately, I have been failing often.  I mean...did you get that George spewed out all kinds of hatred because I made him take the ear buds back? 

Which...for the record...George did finally confess that he asked a friend if he could have them.  So, no...they were not just left on the street - but returned to the rightful owner.  But, the words and the looks and the actions that come from George toward me wear me down.....and God simply tells me....LOVE HIM.

Continue to love him.

Fight for him.

Fight for LOVE.

I am a bit scarred and wounded from being in the battle for so many years now - and when I let myself start pitying myself...I turn my eyes toward Jesus who took it ALL on - to fight for...


Even in my sin.   Even in my disdain and jealousy and selfishness and judgements and laziness. 

He fought for me.

And paid the ultimate price.

Why should I do any different?  I CLAIM to be a disciple....the problem is I can't chose to be a part time-disciple.  Either I am one or I am not.  Part of what God is teaching me is coming through this pain...and I must keep fighting for the love of George.

Friday, July 26, 2013

This Phase of Parenting

As I recently posted on Facebook that we have entered the "joy" of football, marching band and volleyball...also known as All Things Fall In America, a friend welcomed me into this new phase of parenting.

My initial thought was, "Girl! I have already been doing that whole mom-chauffeur thing for a few years!"

But, then I started to really look around my house and realize...I really have left one stage and have entered into another.

For so many years...I was doing so much work FOR my kids.  I was not only responsible for things like meal preparation, laundry, cleaning, etc.  I was responsible for getting children dressed...actually putting shirts onto children - yanking one arm, then the other into a mini-tee. Then, sweating as I tried to put tights on my daughter.  Yes tights are so cute...but putting them on is like dressing a Barbie!  I had to wipe behinds, faces, noses and hands...constantly...times SIX!  I had to tie shoes and re-tie shoes and then re-tie them again until I realized the  JOY of velcro!  Then..I had to teach a child how to tie...and then how to do it again and again.  I had to hold their hands through the parking lot to get into the grocery store, then lift them into the shopping cart and then tell them "no" 486 times while trying to keep the gross belt buckle out of their mouths.  I would have to break up fights because one "stole" the toy from another or one "looked at me wrong".  You get it..the list could go on and on.

I thought that was it.  I thought THIS was parenting and nothing would ever change.

But slowly, things did change.

I don't have to put tights on my girls anymore...they prefer to do it themselves.

I never wipe a behind anymore...thank you Lord!

My kids usually don't even want to go to the grocery store with me anymore...and I CAN leave them at home!

And they really don't fight over toys or looks anymore.

Now...things have changed and yes, I drive them all over Greenville multiple times a day!  But...I really, really like who my children are turning into.

Now, we have deep, complicated conversations about race and gay marriage and sex and saving money.  Now, we pray together when life gets tough.  Now, my children sometimes minister to ME..offering me great words of comfort of wisdom.  The parenting is different now...the issues are not always so black and white.  Sometimes, I need to listen to their side of the argument and realize I don't know the answer.  And I find that I need to be willing to say I am sorry - a lot more than I used to.

You can now find me hardly ever at home...when about 10 years ago I was begging to get out of the house.  You will find me sitting in the hot sun watching my younger boys playing football in a South Carolina summer.  And you will find me cheering wildly for my freshman son as he marches in his first Friday night high school football game!  And you will find me having long, amazing conversations with my oldest daughter about spiritual gifts and college and what life is all about as I drive her to work every day.  In my spare time I will be coaching one of my daughters - who kicks butt in volleyball.

I love being a mom.  I love having lots of kids!  And I really love this new phase of parenting.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

What's Been On My Mind Lately....

I have been pretty consumed lately by books.  Instead of writing in my spare time (as you probably clearly noticed), I have been reading.

Well...that and listening to music.  I fell in love with Pand*ra - until I discovered Sp*tify!  It is with giddy pleasure that I relive my past listening to albums I had long ago parted with.  Usually it was because the cassette tape broke after dozens of times of getting caught in the wheels of the cassette player.  I was pretty handy with a pencil and could re-wind most all of my favorites, but after a while, they just didn't play the way they should.  Now, I can listen away as I do paperwork or catch up on emails.

I have devoured every Relevant Magazine for the past 3 years and take notes on scraps of paper of new bands I need to listen to.  With Sp*tify, I have been delighted by the sounds of new bands with familiar punk riffs or hard rocking guitars or even a catchy hook that gets me dancing in my office.

For some reason, I have needed to pour in a little bit - and not pour out so much.

So, in my times when the house is quiet and the kids are asleep, I have been reading.

I am on my 2nd go-around with Pursuing Justice by Ken Wytsma.  The first time I was shouting out loud on almost every page, "Amen brother!", or "Yes!  That is exactly how I feel!".  The second time, the old English teacher in me took my pen, my highlighter and went to work dissecting each and every paragraph, gleaning the gems I want to commit to memory or at least meditate on.  The subtitle is "The Call to Live and Die for Bigger Things".

You all know that several years ago, God clearly called Joe and I to that life of living and dying for something bigger than ourselves, our bank account, our retirement...wait...what exactly IS retirement?  Sometimes it is really nice to read words reminding me of that call and why God calls ALL of us to live and die for bigger things.

I have been very convicted lately of not pining away for heaven - but instead to do KINGDOM work here on earth in order to participate in "thy kingdom come..thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven".


I have decided to write a little here about what I have been reading..and maybe giving you a hint as to what Joe and I are praying through right now.  All I know is that we are not done...Yes, God has done amazing things in our lives - number one being his rescuing us from our sin!  Then, He took some pretty self-centered, self-absorbed, selfish people and taught us to look around at a broken world around us.  Once we looked around, He broke our hearts for that broken world.

God desires justice...and I have begun to take that call very seriously.  It doesn't mean that I don't often fall flat on my face and lean back on that very selfish woman, but it does mean that I get back up and ask God to use me each morning to act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with Him. 

I hope I can pull myself away from Sp*tify and my books long enough to write my thoughts down.  I think I will want to read them again someday :)

Plus..I think we are just beginning on a new and wild adventure with God!