My Summer Surprise

Olivia began shuffling her feet, rounding her shoulders and looking down as we approached the classroom. My happy-go-lucky-can-make-friends-anywhere girl was not up for the challenge.  She has been struggling with a recent transition in her life where she has to courageously participate in a program of 6th-8th graders, knowing hardly anyone. And… the two or three kids she does know, may or may not be there on any given session.

Totally intimidating!

I said a quick prayer over her and stated, “Olivia, what if you don’t worry about your discomfort, but rather look for somebody else who needs a friend, and help them feel welcomed? What if God has you here for that very reason? What if God answers my prayer for you to have a friend in this class, by you being a friend to someone who looks lonely?”

Reluctantly, she left my side, giving me one last pleading look with those beautiful brown eyes. I quickly walked away, but not without first noticing how ginormous those 8th graders were!

It’s interesting how much I fight lately with trusting God to prove himself faithful to my kids. So much so, I think I delay the process in their lives because I interfere and/or intervene when God is training THEM to rely on him.

Several times this past week I would be chatting with one of my kids, saying how much they can trust God, and… simultaneously… thinking how unconvincing I sound. In other words, I’m saying all the right things, speaking words of faith while silently begging God to come through for them.

But that’s just it. I have to release my grip, my control, on what I think God SHOULD do for them. His “coming through” will most likely look different from what I want… and even what they want.

So…it’s AGAIN back to the issue of trust.

Can I trust God with my kids?

Or rather…DO I trust God with them.

Do I trust He will watch over Jessica, Cory and Olivia in hard times? Painful times?

Can I stay out of the way and let a personal relationship unfold between THEM?

I don’t want Jessica, Cory and Olivia to have years of struggle like I did, BUT I do want them to have a real, intimate connection with him. I’m their covering in so much of life, but they have to grow in their own relationship with Christ.

An hour later, Olivia was walking toward me. I scanned her face, looking for the first clue of how things went.

She was smiling.

“Mom, we talked about how God wants us to have confidence in him. I think the talk was for me.”

Priceless.

As we reached our car, Olivia turned and waved goodbye to a new friend. “That’s a girl I just met. She’s really nice and a bit shy.”

2 Timothy 1:12  “I know whom I have believed and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him for that day,”

Entrusted. What a great word. It means to put into the care and protection of someone. I am entrusting my kids to God, in whom I’m believing… AND working on being convinced that he is ABLE to take care of what I’ve entrusted to him.

Olivia turned 11 last week. She is a gift, my little summer surprise, a child we specifically prayed for by name for years. (What can I say… I’m a HUGE Olivia Newton John fan!!)

It is one of my greatest joys to be her mom, and now one of my greatest joys to watch her grow in her faith in God.

Not only am I entrusting her to God, God has literally entrusted Olivia to us— put her in our care and protection. (You can read a bit more of her story HERE.)

I hope your summer has been full of God-given surprises! Just remember this… from a hopelessly devoted Olivia Newton John fan………….

He honestly loves you!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rock Star

My hair had started growing the first of January, about six weeks after my last chemo treatment.  I continued to wear hats to cover up the awkwardness of this stage.  It was coming back the most blah color ever – kind of brown, kind of gray, slightly red – just BLAH!!  Nothing attractive about it.

After two months of growth, I had just enough hair to start coloring it.  Secretly, I made an appointment.  I did not tell anyone, mainly because I did not want input from anybody, especially my family.

As I arrived home from my clandestine appointment, my three children came out the back door ready to bombard me with school questions.  They took one look at me and their reactions went as follows:

Jessica (13 years old):  “Mother!  That’s horrid!!”

Cory (10): Shook his head, walked away, refusing to speak to me for over an hour.

Olivia (3): “Your hair looks cute, Mom.”   (If I were to have a favorite child, it would be O at this moment… just sayin’)

Well, that was quite a welcoming.  “Don’t I feel so loved and encouraged,” were my initial thoughts.  I realize the shock factor was playing into the scene, with my kids being completely unprepared to see my new “do.”  I found it astonishing that they could be fine with my bald head, choosing to react now to my head of new hair, simply because of the color.

So… the color… you ask.  Well, I had persuaded my hairdresser friend to bleach my hair.  I was now a platinum blonde with a Billy Idol kind of look and style.  In all honesty, it was a way for me to “entertain myself” through this phase of my journey.  I was choosing joy, choosing to make myself smile… to find a tangible, visible way to celebrate what God had done in my life.

Psalm 150 is a psalm of praise that lists ways to praise the Lord.  It encourages praise by the trumpet, harp, lyre, strings, flute and resounding cymbals.  The final verse says, “Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.” As corny as it may sound, I felt I was praising the Lord with my hair.  My Billy Idol look was my version of sounding the trumpet or clashing the cymbals.

Jess and Cory slowly accepted the new me, even admitting they kind of liked it.  Ed gave me his reluctant approval, probably (and rightly so) wondering where this would all lead.  Olivia showered me with affection and encouraging words.  Friends flipped over the look, making me feel extremely loved.  All of it – from funny family responses to jubilant friend reactions – brought me such joy and opportunity to again share my story.

Verse 3 of Psalm 150 states, “Praise him for his acts of power; praise him for his surpassing greatness.”

AND… here is my personal paraphrase of verse 6:   “Let every head that has hair praise the Lord.  PRAISE THE LORD!!!”


(hair began growing back January 2010)

Master’s Degree

“But kids… I have a master’s degree!”

 
Jessica and Cory sat across the table from me, completely unimpressed.  My credentials and reputation in the educational world meant nothing to them.  I was just their mom, and they needed to know that I loved them unconditionally, more than they needed my resume.  I, however, needed to be validated, acknowledged, admired-  anything.  Give me something that would motivate me to continue this challenging road of homeschooling.
 
I thought God had called me to school my children at home, but in reality, I was the one being stripped of myself, my identify… and educated in the principles of Godly ways.  Lesson 1:  my lack of God’s righteous character.  Painful.  I was SO tired of the junk in my life and heart, and God was answering my cry for change by the vehicle of home-educating.  What a moment of revelation.  The homeschooling was more about me than them.  As God would change me, I would become a compassionate minister to my family.
 
There are many days when I want to flee from this calling.  “Please God, not me.  Choose another to head up this educational charge for Jess and Cory,”  all the while thanking God for allowing me to be the one personally selected for this task.  
 
God grant me mercy for this day, this moment in time with these… my two personal gifts from you.  Take my master’s degree and make it truly a degree of The Master.
 

 

 

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