Wednesday, July 25, 2007

No, No, No

I’ve noticed lately that Little Man has begun tuning me out. It isn’t that surprising, really; there is a lot going on in his world and lots of new things to explore and learn every single day. It isn’t that he tunes me out completely; it is really just when he is in trouble. I find myself saying, “Little Man, look at mommy’s face….what did mommy say?” over and over again in an effort to make sure the lesson isn’t lost on him. Today however, when I asked him that question, he replied with the most pathetic, ho-hum, Ben Stein-esque, “No, no, no” that it caught me off guard. As he ran off to play I stayed crouched down completely caught up in the moment realizing what it must be like to on his side of the conversation.

Do you have any naysayer’s in your life? I do. I am sure you can relate because we can all be naysayers at one time or another, but this particular naysayer is someone that I respect a great deal and has been a friend of mine for many years. For those reasons, I often find the naysaying particularly hurtful because I receive very little, if any, encouragement from that person. I confess that many times I don’t even want to be around my friend because I feel like no matter what I do, all I get is “no, no, no”, so to speak. It is so stifling and so spirit crushing that many times I find myself passing on the bad behavior to other people in my life as though reciprocating the negativity will somehow alleviate the way it makes me feel.

While working at the church a few months after my son was born, I stole away to the back room of the church to feed him. The director of our preschool came by and sat and talked with me while I fed my son so I took the opportunity to pick her brain about a couple of things. As our conversation neared an end and she got up to leave, I asked her one final question, “If you could give one piece of advice to every new mother, what would it be?” She smiled and sat back in the rocker next to me and said sweetly, “Say “no” as little as possible and find ways to say “yes” every single day.” At first I thought she meant don’t tell your children “no” and thought to myself “that will breed a particularly obnoxious generation of kids” but as she explained I realized she wasn’t saying you couldn’t tell your children no but that so often “no” is all that little kids hear: “Don’t touch that, Get Down, Spit that out, Be Quiet, Don’t take off your shoes,” etc. She was saying that you can teach your children how to be respectful and behave without breaking their spirit.

I thought back to that moment as I sat crouched in the playroom watching my son return to his toys after his scolding. A few minutes passed until he walked back up to me and handed me his milk (instead of throwing it on the floor as he usually does). I praised him and praised him and told him what a good boy he was for following directions and then I got down to his eye level and said, “Little Man, look at mommy’s face….what did mommy say?” He looked at me with the most confused look I’ve ever seen on his face and said, “No, no, no?” and I laughed and said, “Mommy said “Good boy!” A smile shot across his face and he said, “Good boy (gooboy), Good boy!"

Are you a naysayer or an encourager? In my experience, the naysayers can usually chalk their negativity to high levels of productivity or the thin skinned nature of the person on the receiving end but the truth is that there really is no excuse for that kind of behavior in the body of Christ. I am guilty of it, I am sure, but the truth is that we all have the capacity to be a naysayer in someone’s life whether we are aware of it or not. My question is, how can you build someone else up this week?

“Encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.”
1 Thessalonians 5:11

Your thoughts?

Monday, July 23, 2007

Shout it!

The other night as I was praying with my son before putting him to bed, I said the word “Jesus” in my prayer and for the first time he busted out in a surprisingly loud voice, “AMEN!” It startled me and I stifled a laugh as I continued praying in the darkness of his room until ended the prayer with, “In Jesus name….” to which he exclaimed “AMEN”.

This past week I took my little guy with me for a lunch date at my grandparent’s house. As we sat around the table and bowed our heads to pray before lunch, I was so proud to look over and see my little one with head bowed and eyes closed. He sat quietly through a very long prayer (well, at least long for a 19 month old) until my grandfather said “Jesus” to which my son snapped to attention and shouted at the loudest volume to date, “AMEN!!!!” My grandfather stopped praying and we sat there in silence for a moment, which my son took as encouragement so he continued to shout, “AMEN, AMEN, AMEN!!!!!!” I immediately leaned over to quiet him so that my grandfather could continue praying but it only spurred him on to affirm the prayer even more. Afterwards I was apologetic and even a bit embarrassed at my son’s outburst but as I drove home I realized that if anyone was in the wrong, it was me! How wrong of me to discourage my enthusiastic little boy from participating in something that is so clearly an important part of our lives, whatever his method may be.

This week our church is hosting its annual “Summer Bible Quest: VBS for the whole family” and the theme is, appropriately, “Shout it”. Last night as I walked through the auditorium I heard a throng of little voices singing the following lyrics at the top of their lungs:

Shout it! Shout it out loud!
Shout it! Shout it out loud!
Shout it! Shout it out loud!
I’m gonna tell the world about Jesus
What he’s done for you
What he’s done for me
I’m gonna tell the whole world that Jesus is the truth

I wonder how much more effective God’s message would be if we proclaimed his name as loudly and as enthusiastically as our children?

Shout with joy to God, all the earth!
Sing the glory of his name; make his praise glorious!
Psalm 66:1-2

Your thoughts?

Wednesday, July 18, 2007


It was 3:23a.m. and I was sound asleep. The noise was so loud and horrific that I bolted straight out of bed and ran for my son’s room. In the three seconds it took me to cross the house I was sure one of three things had happened: 1) a car had crashed through the front side of the house, 2) the ceiling had collapsed in my son’s room or 3) someone had broken into the house. When I rounded the corner of the hallway and passed the nursery to open my son’s door I was confused to find that the noise was coming from the nursery and that the light was on. I threw open the door and immediately flipped off the light, thus quieting the noise that had terrified me to the core. Apparently, sometime during the night, one of my son’s balloons had made its way from the living room, down the hallway, into the nursery and had been caught up in the blades of the fan. The noise was the sound of the string wrapped so tightly around the motor that it had actually pulled the light cover up into the fan. I collapsed to the darkness of the floor, trembling from the adrenaline as my very groggy husband came slowly shuffling in the room to see what the noise was.

The whole ordeal lasted no longer than 90 seconds but I lay in bed shaking, heart pounding for another hour afterward. It was the first time in my life that I truly understood the depth of a mother’s love for her children. Ask anyone who knows me and they will tell you what a big chicken I am. Any other time in my life I would have run for my dad, run for my parent’s bedroom, or more recently woken my husband to go investigate as I hid under the covers. When my husband first became a firefighter I was so terrified of being in my house alone that I spent the night at my parent’s house every night he was on shift. For those of you who don’t know, that is every 3rd night….for nearly 2 years….and I was 27 years old.

Lying in bed, trying desperately to calm my overactive imagination, I began to think about what my life would be like if I were to lose my son. Tears streamed down my face as I thought about the hole that his absence would bring in my life. I immediately thought of Abraham and Isaac and what must have been going through Abraham’s mind as he stood over his son, armed raised to deliver the blow that would end little Isaac’s life and the depth of the sacrifice God had asked him to make. Then I thought of God and the sacrifice he made when he sent Jesus to the cross. The idea of sentencing my own son to death so that others can live is so far beyond my comprehension that it seems impossible but equally amazing is the fact that God allows each and every one of us to experience the parent/child relationship in our lives. For me, experiencing that relationship, both as a child and as a parent gives even more depth to the sacrifice that was made for my life.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
John 3:16

Your thoughts?

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Weight of the World

I disappeared, I know.

In the last 90 days our church finished remodeling and we entered our new technologically upgraded sanctuary, the responsibilities of which I am still trying to get a grasp on as the Technology Minister. In less than 30 days we are opening a second campus; more construction, new technology, more volunteers, nearly double the workload. Toss in 3 trips, four visits from relatives, a job change for my husband and the news that one of my good friends is moving away and you get the highlights of what has been occupying my brain for the past few months.

If you dig deeper, you might see some other stuff going on; depression, some exhaustion and a lot of scrambling. My husband has been teasing me that I am going through a quarter-life crisis and as funny as he thinks that is, I am not so sure he is off track. I’ve been feeling very stifled lately like something in my life isn’t right. I’ve prayed about it, I’ve thought about it and I’ve even talked about it with the people close to me but nothing seems to alleviate the suffocated feeling. Most tell me it is just a phase or that the feeling will pass once work stabilizes but somehow comments like that make things feel worse, not better. I can’t shake the feeling that it is not situational or temporary and I feel helpless to solve it.

On the other side, this phase has made me more nostalgic, it forces me to consider every action (because I don’t want anyone to know how I feel) and it makes me more intentional with everything that I say and do because I don't want to cheating everyone out of the joyful me. It is not like my life can stop because I don’t feel right; I still have to work, I am still a friend, a wife and a mommy, I just have to work twice as hard to be that person. I know this isn’t uncommon and I can’t help but wonder who else secretly feels this way. I am not really looking for an answer, more just putting it out there and wondering who else is walking around with the weight of the world on their shoulders.