Human Beings

Recently, a woman thanked me for allowing Lil Man to play with all the children in the play area of a fast food restaurant in town. I responded with surprise, and she informed me that the conversation was prompted by a man pulling his kids out of the room in an angry manner, simply because they were interacting with children who were of a different skin tone.

The elderly woman grew up in this city, and shared briefly about being mistreated often as a child because she was born the “wrong” color. She wanted me to know that she was proud, and hopeful, when she saw my young son unassumingly invite all the kids to join his game afterward, without noticing their differences.

But, he does. He sees the differences in people.
He says things like, “The girl with brown skin and red shirt? She helped me!” He drew an autistic child to himself, saying, “That kid isn’t so good with people, so I just sat and waited for him to be ready to play.”
He recognizes when their first language isn’t English, and works around it… “He doesn’t speak what we do, so we talked with our hands!”
He tells me he played with girl toys because that random stranger-child at the mall play area really liked them, so that way the other boy wouldn’t worry about it too much when everyone else thought it was weird. “Because toys are just toys, right? And people are important.”

He knows not everyone is like him. He isn’t immune to the fact that some people aren’t kind about what is different. But Lil Man very rarely lets these differences influence his choices nor does he allow them to define another’s value. He accepts them as fellow human beings. He meets people where they are and invites them into his world with very little hesitation.

As Christians, this is how we are called to be – this is how we are to love.

This has been on my mind for a little while now. All too often, I hesitate to move forward because of reasons involving safety. All too often, I worry about how others will react to me loving in the manner which Christ leads me to. All too often…I lose sight of Him and fail at the mission to connect in true relationship with Him and others because I get caught up within myself.

But we do not follow a God who is full of fear and cowardice. We do not bow down to One who is small or weak. He says, “Follow Me.” And He wants us to trust Him with the unknown. If I go forward when He tells me to, He will guard me. If I seek only His approval, He will grant my soul peace. If I keep my eyes on Him, my struggles will fade.

He is trustworthy. He is our fortress in battle. He alone is able.

Be still.
Know that He is God.
And find the freedom to love as He calls you to.

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Smarts

This past Friday was parent/teacher conference day for us, and Lil Man is excelling in everything except knowing when to keep his mouth closed and listen. (Our social little guy often distracts his classmates!) His teacher will be giving him more challenging work to do, and she praised his ability to think outside of the box. While we need to help him focus on doing his best work as opposed to hurrying through everything, he comprehends the work needed and the results are correct…albeit sloppy.

But how does one teach focus when it comes to mundane tasks or distant goals? We’ve talked about it many times, about schoolwork and soccer and numerous daily tasks. He has the mental idea of “focus”, but struggles to put it into practice as he flits from one activity to the other.

“The world,” he says, “is just too interesting!”

The battle has been to show him that focusing on one task right now will help him learn and grow, so that he can reach any goal in the future and explore all the world over! It’s a foreign concept for him to think about – that if he learns focus with this little step, he will have focus on the ultimate goal even when distractions come.

But, I think it’s starting to make sense to him.

This last soccer game didn’t go too well. The boys worked hard in the first half, and then almost gave up in the second. The opposing team played tough! But we lost our will to keep fighting, and you could see it in their poor, tired faces. After some discussion, I asked Lil Man, “How could you become a better teammate?”

He thought for a minute before answering, “By trusting my team, and having more focus on the ball.”

And there it was! One of the moments today that made my heart swell with pride for my six-almost-seven-year-old boy, who wants so badly to be the best at everything, all on his own! In that small sentence, he acknowledged the need to rely on others, and showed me that he figured out how to put into practice those lessons about focus.

Now, I need to work on my own trust and focus issues so that I can be a good example for him to follow…

 

“Trust in The Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.” – Proverbs 3:5-6

Cereal and Sweet Potatoes

Eager to try his hand at what he sees everyone else doing, my (almost) five-month-old has decided it’s time for solid foods. A few weeks ago, we introduced him to a new world of food-variety with the basic: milky oatmeal cereal. He anticipated every spoonful – he just wanted more and more! He couldn’t wait to get his hands on the utensil for himself!

…Even after the traumatic event of choking himself on that little green spoon.

 

We regained control of the offending object, scooped up a little more of the oatmeal concoction, and dutifully flew the next bites right into that adorable mouth-cave.  Meal time is always an adventure in this house! But we just added a whole new dynamic to our dinner table…

Tonight, we had mashed sweet potatoes with our assorted other food items, so I made Bubby his own special bowl to see what he thought of the seasonally-colored root. He sat with his usual anticipation, bib in place and eyes following my every move, until he tasted that first bite. His poor, little face squished up in confusion as his taste buds realized, “Whoa. This is different!” He gave himself a moment to think about it, and came to the conclusion that this was an acceptable flavor. He ate a few more bites before he made that face again, which made the rest of us chuckle, but he finished it in the end!

Pretty soon, he’s going to want to steal everything on my plate…

 

And, occasionally, he likes to eat people’s faces.

(I think it may be a kiss. But Big Brother isn’t so sure! …Dad might not be either…😉)

 

Just Hold Me

“I’m not strong. I’m tired of being told I’m strong. Just for once, I would like to be as weak as I feel.”  – Unknown

“Maybe home is just two arms, holding you tight when you’re at your worst.”  – Unknown

“The Lord is my strength and my shield.” – Psalm 28:7

I was leaving town. I had, in most parts of my life, given up. I no longer wanted to struggle through each day in this small city with nowhere to go but deeper into my despair and loneliness. I didn’t have any desire to work those twelve hour shifts to keep a roof over my young son’s head or food in his mouth, providing for his most basic needs but unable to give him my time. I was becoming more cynical and angry as each day passed. I was tired. And I didn’t like the “me” I was turning into.

So, I was running away from here to there. To the place where my mama lived, where the trees were green and water was abundant. I had a flight scheduled, house hunting planned, and a career opportunity all lined up.

And then, there he was.

A conversation, a smile, a quiet strength. An acknowledgement and acceptance of who I was as a whole, not just one aspect. A sense of humor that lifted my spirits and a persistence that told me, “You are worth it.”  An example of the Father who loves me more deeply than I will ever be able to realize.

 My husband is the perfect human for me. He’s the man I am meant to walk beside, through the good, bad and ugly in life. We have arguments, we have laughter, we have pain…and then healing. Life has thrown us a few curve balls in the journey we began together, not so very long ago in the grand scheme of our story, but he’s been my constant and we are learning to move as one. He’s my partner, he has my back.

With him, I am able to let my guard down and “give up” for a bit because I can trust him to keep our family on track while I breathe. I can have my moments of weakness without fear of losing it all, because he shows me the One who has control when the world is overwhelming. He is my example of the One who shields me in His love.

I can relax in his embrace, lay my head on his chest, listen to his heartbeat, and know that I am home.

Needless to say, I stayed where I was so I could get to know this amazing man. And I’m so glad I did.

Butt-Pains

I knew from the beginning that Lil Man would be an awesome big brother, but I wasn’t totally prepared for how my heart would swell with love and pride as I watched him interact with his Bubby.

He’s been amazingly patient with Bubby, rarely mentioning the crying and enduring the sudden drop in attention gracefully. Lil Man always wants to read to his baby brother, hunts down pacifiers and comforts him, tells his friends to hush up so they don’t wake him. He asks if Bubby could please sleep in his bed…just in case there are monsters under the crib. (He likes to throw out logical reasons as to why we should agree to whatever it is he’s wanting. Its one of his things.)

Recently, however, Lil Man hesitantly told me, “Mommy, baby brothers are kind of a pain in the butt. And sometimes in the head…when he cries so much.” I laughed, and then told him, “You can be kind of a pain in the butt, too, and so can I!” (Maybe not the best thing to say, but it became a teachable moment!)

This prompted a discussion about how we can ALL be “butt-pains” at times, especially on our bad days. And while he was almost certain he’d never been one of those, he agreed that being hungry..or tired..or grumpy-without-reason..or hurt…can make you feel badly and it shows when you act out. Lil Man’s eyes lit up as he realized his frustration was understood and totally normal. He felt the acceptance he needed in that moment, and was able to take the lesson to heart.

We talked about how people, especially babies, don’t usually mean to be butt-pains. Sometimes it just happens in life as we react to the situations we are in or as a result of our needs going unmet. Sometimes, people act like butt-pains because they never learned a different way to handle what they’re going through. I explained that we can’t really change the person who is being a butt-pain, we can only change the way we respond to them in those moments.

This conversation was a good reminder for me to allow God’s grace to guide my response to others instead of acting out of my own hurt and pride. I realize that some butt-pains won’t ever be resolved as the unhealthy behaviors in others continue and escalate into forms of abuse and/or manipulation. But, while I don’t need to allow these things to keep repeating in my life, I can let go of the anger and allow healing to take place so that I can become a healthier version of myself and reflect God’s mercy and love instead of my own bitterness.

My sweet boys are teaching me that there is usually more to learn in every butt-pain moment than there is in the perfectly happy times, and that we should be grateful for both as we walk through our days. Lil Man really loves his Bubby.

Standing

So Much Love