My Heart Is Hurting

The leaves have started to change.  It has not been a gradual change like when the trees slowly exchange their leaves from lush green foliage to red, orange, and golden Autumn splendor, but a sudden depressing event.  Indeed it is as if the leaves were surprised to find that September has almost ended and fall has officially begun and they grabbed the first things found in their closets, which ended up being  in drab, brown earth tones.  Perhaps that is why the past couple of days have made me reflect on what has been and what is happening in the now, without any glorious epiphanies, only an ache and even possibly a loneliness that is mourning the quickly passing days as another year is quickly flashing by.

My heart is hurting,  missing those who have gone on to glory ahead of me.  I am remembering them all, their quirks and their strengths, and all of the wonderful times spent with them.  Some helped me become the pixie I am today, patiently guiding me with their wisdom.  Others were school friends who left this earthly life too soon.  Still another was a much-loved brother.   Robbed of vitality and made weak and frail in this life by a ravaging disease, he was one of the strongest, and most courageous people I have ever known.  He graced us with his faith.  He brought us joy with his devilish sense of mischief and humor that brought twinkles to his eyes.  We will all be together again someday in the heavenly realms, and my life has been made the better just for having known them.  So until we meet again I will treasure the storehouse of memories they have left with me.

My heart is hurting for Pastor Saeed Abedini, an American who has been in an Iranian prison for two years because he refuses to renounce his Christian faith.  I can not even begin to comprehend the tortures he has endured.  Nor can I fathom the anguish his wife has been and is continuing to go through not knowing if she will ever see her beloved again.  I think of their two precious children who are being denied their father and grieve with him as he misses all of the daily moments of life with his family.   I am also thinking of all of the Christians around the world who are also being persecuted for their faith and just pray for them, the pain and suffering, the loss of innocent people, the utter abominations their children are witnessing that are stealing the joys of childhood from them.  I pray that these people all feel the compassionate, comforting, and loving hands of our God in the midst of all of the suffering and violence.  We know that God will always give us joy and peace in our hearts if we ask for it, but that doesn’t mean that on this Earth we won’t encounter unspeakable troubles and horrors.  Even in the midst of all of these atrocities God is present and he will help these people to overcome if that is their path, or to endure as the trials go on around them.  He will be with them, just like He is with all of us until our work is done.

My heart is hurting for the friends that have come into my life and have since moved on.  I am very grateful to have known all of these fantastic, talented, and lovely people and wish them all the best and that God will continue to shower them with blessings as they continue on their paths in life, even though their paths have now branched off from mine.  Some keep in touch, others do not, but either way they are all still in my prayers.  I am a firm believer in the “A Reason, A Season, and a Lifetime” philosophy which comes from a poem written by an unknown author.  There are a couple of different versions of it floating around out their but all basically say the same thing.  Some people come to us for a season and then move on.  Others come to us for a reason.  Either we are supposed to help them in some way, or they are here to help us with something, through something, etc, or possibly both, and then they too move on.  A few we are blessed with for a lifetime, they go with us through our entire life’s journey.  We never know if a new friend is here for a reason, a season, or a lifetime, but we can enjoy whatever time we do have together.  You never know when you may bump into one of these souls again.  Reuniting with old friends are joyous occasions, and make you appreciate each other that much more in my opinion.

Even though I have been feeling pensive, and a little sad, I realize that these times of sorrow and darkness are all part of living in a broken world.  The second musical ever written by Rodgers and Hammerstein was called Carousel.  It features a song called “You’ll Never Walk Alone”, a poignant song of perseverance through all things:

  • When you walk through a storm
    Keep your chin up high
    And don’t be afraid of the dark.
    At he end of the storm
    Is a golden sky
    And the sweet silver song of a lark.
    Walk on through the wind,
    Walk on through the rain,
    Tho’ your dreams be tossed and blown.Walk on, walk on
    With hope in your heart
    And you’ll never walk alone,
    You’ll never walk alone.

Yahweh is always a present light in all darkness, leading me through it and giving me hope and comfort.  He will always walk with us, through the storms of life as well as the joys of life.  I believe this with all of my being, but I still fall into these dark traps of despair.  However I think that this is a good thing if it leads me to call out to Yahweh to help me, depending on him and surrendering all to him.  These times of reflection allow me to see all of the blessing I have received in my life.  God uses these times to cleanse my soul and refuels me with new purpose to go forward doing God’s kingdom work here on earth.

Even those trees will once again dress themselves in lush green leaves, just as soon as they have been cleansed by the white snows of winter.  Praise God!

I am about to do a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? Isaiah 43:19 NRSV

 

 

 

Finding Some Quiet Time

So I am sitting here doing some research on a couple of different Bible verses that have caught my attention lately.  My thought process is these can possibly be topics of upcoming posts.  I am doing some initial brain storming and using biblegateway.com to compare them to each other in different versions.  I also have my headphones on and am listening to Pandora, which just happened to be on one of my country stations when I turned it on.

You may be wondering why there are headphones blaring music into my head when I am working on a serious quest for knowledge.  Well the simple answer is we live in a very tiny mobile home so I don’t have an office, or even a normal size bedroom, to place my desk (whose name is Cordelia) in.  Instead it is in our very small living room.   If my husband is home when inspiration hits me and we are sharing the living room space, then the television is also going.  Normally when I am working on a post or a Bible study I will turn on music to help me center my thoughts in our little noisy home, and it tends to be instrumental versions of popular Contemporary Christian songs, similar to the music played at Hobby Lobby.  Tonight I was so engrossed in my research and totally lost in my thoughts and the words that i didn’t really pay attention to the music when I turned it on, it was just kind of going in the background.  Any one who knows me knows that I listen to a wide variety of stuff as testified by the rather eclectic collection of songs in my Ipod and the many different stations on my Pandora account.  All of a sudden it hit me that the song that was playing was an old Garth Brooks song — I’ve Got Friends in Low Places, not Contemporary Christian elevator music!  The sheer irony of the nature of my reading coupled with the idea of having friends in low places was not lost on me.  If ever there was a time to not take a coincidence as a hidden message from  Providence this would be it!

It is pretty safe to say that Husband thinks I am slightly more than a little crazy at this point.  He has had his suspicions all along but they have now been definitely confirmed.  When the above realization hit me instantaneous laughter bubble up and out of me.  The good, deep kind of joyful laughter that comes from deep down in your belly and brings tears to your eyes.  So maybe it was an “aha” moment from above after all.  Not one that had a calling or some deep meaning in it, but a simple reminder that I needed to take a moment to relax and unwind, and find my balance after a long, busy day.  It is necessary to take the time to stop all of the noise and just sit still, let it be, and breathe.

Life is a never-ending to-do list.  Take today for an example.  Wake up and shower, get Max up, ready and out the door, commute to work, work through an audit at work all day, commute home, make dinner, squeeze in a little time to start some research — perhaps my mind is going on over load.  Where do I make the time to just be?  Is all this busy-ness robbing me of the true joy that God intended for me to experience on my life’s journey?

There are a plethora of self-help articles out there that tell us that it is ok, even vital, to make the time to take care of ourselves.  They encourage us to find some time to unwind, pamper ourselves, focus on our needs, and forget about the rest of the world for just a couple of minutes.   They tell us we need to take the time to recharge ourselves.  What I don’t see in these articles very often is them telling us to listen for the whispers from the one with the great reset button.  If I don’t take the time to incorporate some quiet in my life, how can I hope to deepen my relationship with God?  Has society in general developed too far in the wrong direction?  I have access for instant noise 24-7.  I never have to be alone with my own thoughts or be available for those vital conversations with God that happen in the silence.

So the challenge I must accept is the one that involves me being more intentional about finding some quiet time each and every day.  A prayerful, meditative time each new day to allow my relationship with the heavenly father to grow.  I need to remind myself that in these quiet silences our Divine God will place balms of healing on my soul that will soothe and repair it, as well as encourage, motivate, and recharge me so that I will be ready to face anything that comes my way with wisdom, peace, and relative calm.  Sounds great! Right?  I think it does, but somehow I just can’t seem to get there.

Fear not!  God is loving and full of grace!  Even though I continue to mess up this simple thing, he tells me it is ok.  He is always available for me, in my busy-ness, in all the craziness, and in my silent times.  So as long as the sun comes up I will continue to try to incorporate some quiet times into my day, it only takes a few baby steps at a time.

Psalms 46:10 Be still, and know that I am God

Did I Bite Off More Than I Can Chew?

It definitely wouldn’t be the first time and most likely won’t be the last.   A little over a year ago I began to feel nudges.  Not physical nudges like somebody was poking my arm, but those pesky little spiritual nudges that say our Daddy in Heaven has a new assignment for me.  Just like human fathers, it has become my belief that our heavenly Father likes to tease his children for a while before letting them in on his plans for each of them.   We are created in his image so it makes perfect sense that he has a sense of humor, mischief, and merriment.  He whispers to us, “I have a new, fun, awesome plan for your life!  Can you guess what it is?”  So I started to look for the little clues he was leaving me that would tell me what he had in store for me next.  Eventually, with the help of two wonderful people (one a pastor who is also a good friend that has moved on to follow a new calling of his own in distant lands and the other a patient lady with a great big heart who has sentenced herself to being my spiritual mentor), the conclusion was made that my next assignment was to write.

Pure excitement gripped my soul.  God wants ME to be a writer!  Memories of pretending to be Anne Shirley and Laura Ingalls Wilder for hours on end all through out my childhood flooded my mind.  It made absolutely perfect sense to me that I should join the ranks of these fictional kindred spirits of my youth and become an author.  So I did the only thing a dutiful, loving child of God can do when given a new task by the Father.  I questioned him on his choice of assignment for me and tried to stall as I wrestled with self-doubt.

What was I supposed to write about?  Will the writing take the form of a book or an article or something else completely?  Where do I even begin?  I haven’t had any education in the writing arts what if i can’t do it?  Am I capable of writing anything another human being would find engaging?  How do I get started?  For months these questions rolled around while I delayed getting on with the task at hand.  Until I decided that the spec sheet of my assignment specified that I should pay tribute to a dear man by incorporating his legacy of poetry into a daily devotional format.  Armed with this new information I plowed ahead with more procrastination.  So maybe that wasn’t the plan after all.  Perhaps I had misread the memo and wasn’t really supposed to write after all.

Never fear!  He didn’t leave me to flounder around in the shadows of self-doubt.  Instead he brought new people into my life to advise and encourage me to pursue the writing road.  Renewed energy surged through me for my devotional project.  I even came up with a name for the project, then stalled again.  On the advice of a new friend who is a gifted story-teller and writer I compiled a sample of the dear man’s work and eagerly sent it off to three folks that had never met him to see if his poems had any appeal outside of the family circle with sentimental attachments to the words.  Oddly enough the reviews came back with positive feedback for the poetry, but two of the three reviewers said they wanted to hear my voice, and asked what is God putting into my heart to share with his children on planet Earth?  One of them suggested I start small, with a blog.   As a result Wisdom Wanderings was born.

Awesome! Mission complete!  Task finished!  I have become a writer!  Now I can be done, right? Not exactly.  Plans for further writing abound and continue to be at the front of my mind.  There are a couple of drafts started for new blog posts, and ideas for books to review in future posts are running around in my head.  The classic movie Field of Dreams starring Kevin Costner brought us the epic line “If you build it, they will come.”  So I am going to choose to trust in God and that he didn’t assign me a pointless calling and continue to publish new posts on a regular basis hoping that if I write it, followers will come.  If you are a fellow human being and you have found your way to my blog in its infancy stage, thanks for taking the time to read my ramblings!

But wait there’s more!  The time has come to take the next steps in this call to write and branch out to magazine articles.  I have chosen the magazine and gotten the requirements for submitting items for publication to the editors.  While I haven’t begun the actual writing of said article there are a couple of topic ideas running through my head that I have plans to begin researching.  One is on two important female characters that had very important roles in the Old Testament, despite the fact that they weren’t Israelites.  Another idea involves taking a look at when and why the angels were created, and comparing the fallen angels to the fallen humans in the Garden, if that is possible.

It has been said that I don’t dabble at anything, so in true Pixie fashion I am also planning to try my hand at writing curriculum for the new Mennonite Sunday School curriculum, Shine as well.  Providence seems to be in agreement with me as it led me to an issue of the Mennonite World Review where I ran across an article (want advertisement) that was looking for people to write curriculum for year three of this new program.   Of course I clicked on it and now have all the information needed to submit a sample to be considered as one of the said writers.  Unlike the blog posts or plans for magazine article submissions, this idea includes a built-in time frame.  All samples must be submitted for consideration by the middle of December.   So I guess I better get busy!

So have I bitten off more than I can chew?  Possibly, but I serve a  God who is greater than me, and through him all things are possible.  If this writing thing is indeed a gift he has graced me with, then he will also give me the wisdom, words and abilities needed to be successful at it.  The exact audience he is intending me to reach will be reached, as he will see to it that the needed opportunities arise to make it happen.  After all, He is a gentleman,  and he will open the doors needed for me if I just have faith.   So buckle up!  I am embracing this new calling and looking forward to seeing where this journey will lead me.

Letting Boys Play Like Boys With No More Apologies

“Pixie Momma, Max held down Suzie and wouldn’t let her go.”  Immediately my stomach feels sick and I begin to worry about what Suzie’s mother will say, think, or do when she hears that Max held Suzie down.   Measures to repair the damage, imagined or otherwise, are at the top of my priority list.  I thank Sally for letting me know, make Max apologize to Suzie,  and begin with a lecture to Max that lasted as we exited the church building to go to our car, continued the entire way home, was followed up with questions pertaining to why he can’t seem to play well with others (most of whom are girls in our church setting), ending with my disappointment in him for this unacceptable behavior.  This sounds like a tame scene, but there was definitely no calmness, patience or grace in my discussion with my son and the decibel got pretty loud as the conversation went on and on.  At one point my head may have actually been spinning as I levitated.   Never once did it occur to me to inquire into the situation further about the actual circumstances of what led up to Max holding Suzie down before embarking on what felt like my duty as his mother to correct the situation FAST.

This situation really happened after a recent church service, but I have changed the names of the girls.  My intent was to prove to the girls and the girls’ parents that I would not tolerate my son being a bully to the girls I guess, because I am afraid of being called a bad mother who is raising a horrible son.  Very soon after the conversation above took place the emotions settled down and the bile disappeared, relieving the feelings that I was about to be sick caused by the fear of the impending  judgement by another mother. I dreaded that she would find my parenting skills lacking.  I resumed the conversation with my son to finally hear his side of the story, which is what I should have done in the first place while Sally was standing there doing her telling.  Turns out that the girls, most of whom are older than Max by a year or two, had taken his shoe and were refusing to give it back to him, making him chase them for it.  He was chasing them because prior to the girls deciding to take his shoe and torment him with it, I, his mother, had told him to gather his stuff (it tends to get spread out around the church over the course of the morning) because we were getting ready to go home.   So when asking for his shoe did not render its return to him, he took matters into his own hands and played the game that the girls initiated.  He chased Suzie till he caught her and didn’t let go until he had his shoe because he was fearing the wraith of keeping his mother waiting.

Why Sally felt the need to tattle on Max I don’t know, but I do know that it isn’t the first time, and it will most likely not be the last.  I need to relearn how to handle these situations.   Instead of assuming Max is guilty as charged I need to gather all of the facts about what the circumstances are.  After finding out all of the facts this time, I apologized for not getting the whole story right at the start, but reiterated to Max that he was wrong to hold down Suzie.  If she wouldn’t give him back his shoe, and he couldn’t find a way to reason with her, then he needed to find an adult to mediate the situation.  All this time later I still feel guilty about how I handled this situation.  Especially since I know something similar has probably happened in the past often and I didn’t get the whole story ever, and it will possibly happen again in the future.  I am determined to change my response the next time.

I ran across a post from blogger Momma Erin over at Christian Momma’s Guide tonight that brought this memory back to me and I realized with startling clarity that I have been doing a HUGE disservice to my son as a result of my insecurity as a mother.  The post is titled I’m Worried For Our Girls and the link is below.  She is talking more about how mothers responded to girls who are tattling, and emphasises that we need to raise strong girls that are able to compromise with the boys they share this earth with.  I am going to take that one step further here.  As the mother of a growing boy, I need to stop allowing others to make me feel shame when my son is playing or reacting like a normal, healthy boy.  Momma Erin shares a story about a mother at a jumping park ( i assume a bouncy house kind of place) who was shamed and embarrassed when told to make her boys play elsewhere because they were disturbing some girls that were also playing in the same area.   I have been that shamed mother more times than I can count.  It is a horrible place to be!  Our children learn by our examples, we need to support each other as mothers and teach our children the spirit of kindness and compassion as well as the skills to compromise.

So it will be my goal as Max’s mom to no longer engage in this behavior that is destructive to his self-esteem and a disservice to the girls we encounter by allowing them to tattle and win rather than learn how to share public spaces with all, both boys and girls.

Loving God, help me to show the grace and patience you show to me to my precious son.  When situations arise grant me the wisdom to control my emotions until I have the full story and can then respond appropriately.   Teach me how to encourage and uplift other mothers and not judge them in any way.  Help me to foster an attitude of love for all, and help me to forgive myself when I fail.  In Jesus name I pray, amen.

 

I’m Worried For Our Girls – Christian Momma’s Guide