Monday, February 19, 2007

Where are you from?

I've had to answer that question a lot these past few days. It's conference time, and I'm meeting a lot of new people. For some people, that question isn't too bad. A person can either answer it by stating where they grew up, or where they are presently living. But if you live overseas, that question has many more implications. It could mean where I grew up. It could mean all of the places I have lived. It could mean where I live now, and it could even mean where I consider "home."

It's even worse for my kids. When I grew up, I only moved 3 times, so I was relatively stable. My kids moved six times in three years at one point. We've moved even more times than that, but those three years were pretty rough. During that time I went to an education conference in which the speaker told us we should ask our kids a certain question to find out where they considered "home." Knowing how much we had been traveling, I really didn't want to ask that question. But I did. The question was: "Where do you feel the most at home." My kids' answer? A hotel. That was rough. But then I realized that the reason they felt the most at home in a hotel was because they knew exactly what the hotel would look like when they went in. It was a constant in their lives at a time when there weren't many other constants.

So to answer where I am from: I grew up in Texas and California, which is why I have a Californian accent (yes, California has an accent!) with a little bit of a Texas twang. I went to college in Missouri, met my husband, had my daughter, received my teaching degree (in that order), moved to Florida, then to Thailand, China and Taiwan. Where do I feel the most at home? I would have to say Texas and Florida, because that's where family is.

Now you. Where do you feel the most at home?

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Speaking of entertaining angels...

I will be giving staff devotions tomorrow morning. Anyone who knows me knows that public speaking is not my "thang." I usually get worked up, a bit nervous, and my neck will probably be red... UGH.

I prefer a keyboard any day. The thing about blogging is that there is a delete button. There's also a mouse for those wide-sweeping deletes. There is pause, reflection, and judgement on what has been said with a final approval (if it makes it up) or disapproval (if it's never seen again).

Our minds should work like that, when it comes to words spoken to others. A little selection, reflection, judgement, then the final product. It doesn't always work that way, does it? James talks about the abuses of the tongue, and that little member being as sharp as a two-edged sword, and how no man can tame the tongue. Wagging it too much gives it way too much strength!

There are consequences to a sharp tongue unfortunately. Once those words are out there and damage is done, there is a lot to contemplate. And when that sharp tongue says sorry, who can blame the wounded one for steering clear? It takes a lot of balm to heal that kind of wound, let alone the trust that is lost because of it. (Can you imagine Caesar saying to Brutus, "Oh, that's alright friend. I know you didn't mean it! Come here and give me a hug.")

I prefer the keyboard, love the thought put into words in the blogging world, but I know it's not reality. And the bottom line is that we will hurt others by our words, and we will get hurt by them as well. We learn to write by practicing. We learn to communicate and relate to others with our words through interaction and practice as well.

Public speaking.... I don't know if I want that kind of practice! But I'll give it a go....

PS. I'm speaking on the names of Christ. Always a good topic. It's easy to speak when I'm confident in the subject!

Monday, February 12, 2007

"I love her so muuuuuch!"

Having a child is a scary experience. Not just labor and delivery. Heck, it seems like women in general are prepared for that part of it, if anything from our own mothers describing their experience any time they need to guilt us into something: "I went through (any number here) hours of labor with you, and this is the thanks I get?"

No, I'm talking about the scary part. The "this tiny human being is dependent on me for everything" part. I felt that the minute my mom walked out the door to return home, which was 13 hours away. I was on my own in "mom" world. Not completely alone...Big Dad was there with me. But he wasn't able to be there for the type of things mom's are there for: what to do when nursing hurt, or how much of this gunk do you use for diaper rash. My daughter was already two weeks old, and I still had this "how do I know what she will need and when she will need it" feeling.

One morning, Big Dad was at work. I was up early and decided to actually get a shower before Emily woke up. I showered as fast as I could, and as soon as I turned the water off, I could hear Em crying. It was a desperate cry, and I could not get dressed fast enough. You know how it is trying to get clothes on when you're just slows the whole process down.

I threw on my clothes, opened the door, ran through one bedroom, the living room, and finally to my own room, and found myself by her bedside. She was crying hard now, and for a split second the thought raced through my mind, "What do I do?" I picked her up, pulled her close to me....and silence. Complete silence except for those small hiccup-type sniffles that follow a hard cry. The wave of emotion that washed over me at that moment was overwhelming. Have you ever seen the movie "Raising Arizona?" This couple kidnaps one of five todders from a rich family in town because, " they got more'n they kin handle." The husband hands the kidnapped baby to his wife, she holds him for a split second then bursts into tears, all the while saying, "I love him so MUUUUUUCH!" Yeah. I was completely in touch with that emotion.

In that moment I realized that while this little human was completely dependent on me for everything she needed, her needs were something I looked forward to meeting because her love was there, so unconditionally and vulnerably, and that was all I needed. From that point on, the challenge of motherhood was mine to take on, and I loved the challenge. Big Dad was there, too, being a Dad and loving her the way Dads love daughters, but on that day my role as Mom was solidified by a complete and total love that has probably been present since the dawn of motherhood, and one that only my Savior can surpass.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

In the throws of parenting

I don't know if I should call it parenting, supervising, chauffering, coaching, teaching.....I've been just about everything this week. Em is pretty self sufficient these days and just checks in occasionally. Timothy is in soccer and track, and is working hard to bring up his gpa with a teacher who is bound and determined that EVERY paper EVERY child hands in is PERFECT. UGH. I can say he's risen to the occasion, though. Christopher is the thespian he's always wanted to be, having presented us with his acting debut as Red Chief in the play "Ransom of Red Chief." Practices were every night this week, and I learned I can make long pants look like knickers in a jiffy. Last but not least was Nathaniel's birthday which we celebrated as a family on Monday, and with his class on Friday. After getting in bed after midnight last night, I ended up crashing this afternoon, and I think I'm almost caught up. Vitamins B and C are a high priority at this point.

On the serious side of things, we've had to deal with Christopher enduring the needless and unwarranted hostilities from a new student in class. Christopher is a tenderhearted person who cares about others and their feelings. I told him that it's a mistake for this boy to see his kindness as a weakness though, and it is important for him to set clear boundaries with him. It has made sense to him, and I think it's a life lesson the he has had to learn early. Unfortunately.

T and I know all too well what it is like to be unjustly accused, for someone to constantly present us in a negative light, and constantly speak to us from that standpoint. We've had to take our own advice, and are able to pass on things we have learned. Going through difficult situations or relationships is worth it, especially if we can take what we have learned and help someone else. We've learned it doesn't matter if the other person or people don't recognize what they have done. That is not within our control. All we can do is try to influence or enlightened the offenders. If they choose to deny, there's not much we can do. It is important, though, to withdraw from the relationship, to prevent toxic buildup, and to keep the offenders from becoming REPEAT offenders. They can't change what they don't acknowledge.

It's hard seeing our children go through situations like this. It's also difficult not to put our own emotions from our own experiences on our kids. It's important to stay objective, listen, and respond appropriately. We want our kids to be open with us, don't we? And teachable. Teachable is good.