Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Force of Habit

This morning as I was dressing my son I noticed that when I picked up his pants to put them on him, he lifted up his leg in anticipation of putting it in the leg hole. Not a big deal, I know, but it surprised me because he had never done it before. Later when I grabbed the spray bottle to spritz his frizzy hair into soft curls he closed his eyes and ducked his head down. It made me smile.

When the little guy was brand-spanking new, we were encouraged to develop steady repetition in his routines because his preemieness (if that is a word) would cause him to be sensitive to over-stimulation. To be honest, the repetition also helps with a lot of other issues like putting him to bed at night and keeping him occupied while I get ready in the morning. For instance, he knows without a doubt that when mommy snuggles him up and sings "God Is So Good" that it is bed time, period. The repetition that we provide helps him feel safe, gives him something to rely on, and teaches him about consistency.

I heard once that it takes 28 days of repetition to form a pattern and 90 days to form a habit; it is the reason that many rehab centers offer 28 and 90 day programs. I've been thinking a lot about my habits lately, both the good ones and the bad, and wondering what new habits I could be developing. Believe it or not, I've actually posted a 90 day calendar on my bathroom mirror and have been putting a little gold star up for every day that I work out. Lame, I know, but you won't believe how effective it has been. When I get home after a long day of work, make dinner, pick up the house and put the munchkin to bed, working out is the very last thing I want to do until I see that chart. Knowing you are 65 days in and that skipping that day will cause you to start over breeds a new kind of motivation.

I won't bore you with the details of the new habits I am trying to forge but I will ask, have you considered your habits lately?

Your thoughts?

Thursday, April 19, 2007


Through the wonder of technology and social networks I was able to locate a dear friend with whom I had lost touch almost 6 years ago. This particular friend has always had a dear place in my heart not just because she taught me to play the guitar and because we both have a deep love for missions, cultures and languages but because she holds the distinction of having had more influence on my spiritual life than any non-family member ever has. Her absence in my life has been felt numerous times in the past six years so I am really grateful to be back in touch.

Last night as I read off the last email from my friend, readied myself for bed and began to unwind I thought a lot about my friend and the memories we shared. As I laid my head on the pillow and began to drift off to sleep I thought about heaven and how wonderful it will be to reunite with so many dear brothers and sisters. The small glimpse of heaven that I was afforded in a simple conversation with a long lost friend was truly a gift from God.

For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage each other with these words.
1 Thessalonians 4:16-18

Your thoughts?

Wednesday, April 18, 2007


It all began during spring break when my dad offered to watch my son during the day as he worked on remodeling one of the rooms in our house.

At night I would find our little guy hammering the wall, measuring everything in sight, and leveling anything with a flat surface. Last week I walked in and found him with the telephone wedged between his ear and shoulder while tapping on my laptop with all 10 of those pudgy fingers.

This weekend we were shopping in the grocery store when a stranger walked up and started talking to him and he mimicked her laugh. Then this morning when someone cut me off in traffic I yelled, "Hey! Watch where you are going!" to myself, really, and I heard from the backseat, "Hey!"


Living with a sponge is fun but scary; it is amazing to me how much he is taking in and processing but it forces me to think about the kind of example I am serving up for him to mimic. I am told that it will really hit when he begins mimicking something I don't want him to pick up on but it is already making a significant impression on me.

Has anyone ever told you that they look up to you or admire you?

When my husband and I worked in youth ministry there was a girl in the youth group who said those exact words to me. I was so flattered and honored at first but as I began to see her emulate my actions it became completely terrifying knowing that she was looking to me for an example.

One time during our weekly Bible study I talked with her about the danger of putting faith or hope in each other instead of Christ and encouraged her to focus on Christ and not her Christian brothers and sisters. Less than a year later my husband and I left youth ministry and the state to be closer to family and the disappointment was so devastating that she completely cut me out of her life, literally.
I still have the letter that she wrote me, telling me all of the ways in which I disappointed her and how it was easier to not be friends than to be disappointed.

A bit dramatic? Probably, but she was 15 so her reaction was not surprising, just disappointing. It has been 5 years since we last spoke and I googled her name the other day and found out that she is now in college, active in ministry, and has even published some articles on the faithfulness of Christ.

One lesson I am sure she learned? Christians disappoint but Christ doesn't.

Who do you put your hope in?

Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:1-3

Your thoughts?

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Time Out

My little guy is 16 months old, but from all appearances he has officially entered the terrible twos.

As an avid "people-watcher" I find the whole experience completely fascinating albeit irritating at times. Watching him test his world, his mommy, and his boundaries is such a growing experience for me as a parent because it gives me newfound respect for both my parents and my God. It has caused me to be more intentional with what I say and how I follow through on my words and it has caused me to be more consistent with the boundaries that I set for him.

The first time that I put him in 'time out' (one minute in the corner) he thought it was a game and kept looking back to see if I was still watching and if I would make him stay there. By the third or fourth time he had stopped looking back to see if I was there and just whimpered, bottom lip sticking out, and big ol' crocodile tears streaming down his face until I told him he could get up. Then his morning he did something he knew he shouldn't do (hit the dog) and looked at me to see if I had witnessed what he had done. When we made eye contact I said, "Do you want to sit in time out?" and his eyes grew like saucers as he said emphatically, "No, mama" and raised his chubby arms for me to hold him.

I am not naïve; I know that the boundary testing has only begun, but I also know that my consistency will not only teach him about obedience and respect but also about a God who will never give up on him. The boundaries that I set and enforce will be just as influential to his spiritual development as the middle of the night hugs after he has had a bad dream. I know that as painful as it is to watch my little guy cry because I told him "no" it is nothing compared to the pain that I cause God every time I sin and that the pain he is feeling is formative and important to his development.

Being a parent makes me see my relationship with God in a new light; it causes me to think about the pains I have experienced and will continue to experience in my life and what purpose they have for my spiritual formation. What lesson is he teaching me or allowing me to learn?

We have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live! Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.
Hebrews 12:9-11

Your thoughts?

Monday, April 16, 2007

The Sandbox

In the aftermath of Easter weekend, the staff at our church was granted an unexpected and completely guilt-free day off from work; it was awesome.

I spent the day hanging out with my boys, catching up on household forgottens, and just recharging my batteries in general.

Towards the end of the day I took my little guy to the local park, something we haven't done in a while because of the weather. It was rather sunny that day and he wouldn't keep his hat or sunglasses on so I took him beneath the mecca of slides and plopped down in the sand with him.

We sat there playing with the sand, cupping it up in our hands and letting it slip through our fingers onto our skin, clothes, even hair. At one point I took the little toy boat he was playing with, dug a big hole in the sand, dropped it inside and covered it with a mound of sand. His mouth dropped open, he looked up at me with THE saddest face you've ever seen and tears immediately sprung to his eyes. I was surprised, certainly not the response I expected.

I quickly pushed back the sand and dug up the 'lost' toy, handing it back to him. He looked at it, then the sand, then me, and let out this deep chuckle like, "Well, look at that!" before putting the boat back in the hole and sprinkling sand on top. For the next half hour we buried and unburied the boat, our hands, our feet, our shoes and everything else we could find.

That night as I gave him a bath and tried to rid his hair and skin of the remaining sand, it occurred to me that teaching him that unseen does not equal not present would one day help him better understand God. As I rinsed the soapy bubbles from his soft little curls I thought about all of the lessons he had yet to learn and about the ways I could use even the simple things to testify to my son about my Heavenly Father. Who knew a lazy afternoon in the sandbox would be the first of many God lessons for us both?

Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. 19 Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.
Deuteronomy 11:18-19
Your thoughts?