I Heart Science

Very tall for her age, even taller than her twin sister. She was long and lean, blonde and breautiful, and just as clumsy with her grace as any other fourth grader should be.  My fourth grade students were still babies, but I could see in their achievements (they were impressive) that they would be teenagers tomorrow. 

But for now, I soaked up their current love for their teacher (me), I fed off of their enthusiasm for learning, and I was blown away with their profound statements and questions. 

She raised her long arm. It was, with the rest of her body, jumping up and down in her desk from excitement. Her fingers twisted and turned through the air. She had something to say. 

I paused at the right time during my lecture (yes, I said during my lecture. Please note this was lecture and note taking time)….I paused during my lecture and smiled at Laura and nodded my head for her to go ahead with her question or comment. She proceeded with the attention of the whole class:

I (she pointed to herself)

Heart (her fingers formed a heart in front of her own)

Science (and she spread her arms out pointing and displaying the lecture notes that still covered the board)

She loved to learn. What a gift!  What a blessing!  It was learning that she was in love with, hard lecture notes at such a young age, but something had clicked and she could not contain the excitement and the joy she found in new knowledge. 

I believe that when we learn truth, we learn about Jesus. I believe that Science is the study of God’s creation. I believe that school should be hard work and not always fun, but at the end of the day the kids should beam with excitement from their new found treasure. Knowledge. 

And now I am not a teacher anymore in a classroom. I AM A MOMMY!  And it is summer break and Madison Academy is in full force. We have a list of classic books to read. We are going to conquer labeling all 50 states (she can label 30), by Fall, we will be able to list all the American presidents in order, our nature notebook will be full of sketches and information about plants in our neighborhood, and Daddy is going to teach the fundamentals of basketball. 

And this is where I want to thank Laura’s parents. Because I believe that love of learning begins at home. Yes!  A teacher can spark this or squash it. But almost always, I believe children, like Laura, come from homes where learning prospers and runs wild and covers the smiles of the whole family learning together. 

So, I take my daughter’s hand and I have the PRIVILIDGE of learning alongside her (trust me, I am learning also!) I have the joy of picking, “What do I want my girl to know?” And then teaching her!  

There will be late cookouts. She will have cousins spend the night and sleep in late. We will spend entire days playing at the pool. But perhaps learning just as much as in the classroom (or dare I say possibly more?) I now say with confidence, SCHOOL IS IN SESSION!

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The Real World

Her little cheek pressed to mine and I could feel the warm tears pouring from her eyes. I scratched her back and rubbed her soft hair in my fingers. Her little eight year old body shook from the intensity of her cry. She hurt. Her little girl heart and soul ached. “Shhh.  Shhh.”  I did not say much, I was just there.

“Why?  How can that happen?”  Each word was spoken with difficulty because of the deep cry she fought to calm. I laid in my bed beside my daughter. 

At the age of eight, my daughter has given into the routine of bedtime. She is a hard sleeper. She prefers her bed full of stuffies and falling asleep in her own bedroom. At the rare request of sleeping on Mommy and Daddy’s floor, I knew something was pressing on her heart. With a request to cuddle, I prompted her to lay down on my bed and I slipped in beside her. 

She laid cuddled in the bed chatting away, like my Chatty Maddie does, and it took a little while for her heart to release the struggle within. “Why doesn’t she have a Mommy anymore?”

The Mother of one of her closest friends had thrown in the towel and walked away. It rocked Madison’s world. It rocked my world. Questions, so many questions. So much hurt that seemed to have no reason. Why should any little girl have to go through this?  

Madison hurt for her friend, wanting desperately to comfort her. My mind raced with the agony of how any mother could cause her own child so much pain. 

There are natural responses that spring up within me. I long to shield and protect my daughter from the hurt of this world. I want to ignore that it exists and spoil her beyond the thoughts of pain and suffering. I want to reason that this hurt could never come to my family. I want to assure her that we are safe from this possibility. I want to run and hide. And then I breathe. 

I inhale and I exhale and I say a quick prayer, “God, I do not understand this.  I need you to speak, not me.”  I focus and I realize. I am preparing my daughter for battle. I am raising a soldier. This life is hard and I long to raise a woman of God that is equipped for the difficulties of life that are sure to come her way. 

“Madison, I love you so so much. Daddy loves you so very much. But who loves you more?” And I continued to rub her back. 

Her response had been taught. She had learned it in the songs I sang to her as a baby, the answer was in the school we chose to send her to, the answer was in the nightly devotions, in the love of her bedroom decor, in nature walks, and sacrifices made so she could have everything to her benefit, even in the television shows we chose.  Her response was JESUS. 

“Madison. I do not know why this happened. But let’s do everything we can to help her so that she can know how much Jesus loves her and that no matter what happens, he is always there for her.”

You see, I never ever want my daughter to hurt. But it is a reality of this world. I do my very best to protect her, but I do not have to seek out these lessons, pain and sin are everywhere. What matters is if I teach her how to react. I long to teach her to chose right, how to help others, how to forgive, how to love, and even how to hurt.  

No matter how much I try to keep it away, my daughter will cry again. She will hurt again. I can shout at her to “toughen up” and harden her heart and steal that compassion that she has for others. I can ignore her questions and leave her scared and insecure. Or I can give her the only tool that will lead her to love, security, strength, and compassion:  JESUS. 

So, Madison, while your question pierces deep into my heart and soul, I do not know, I do not understand, but I know the one who does. And sweetheart, I can see that Jesus has amazing plans for your life and he has made you such a strong, sweet little girl that he is already using you to bring love and comfort to a little girl that no longer has a Mommy. And right now, I am so proud to say that YOU sweetheart are part of Jesus’s answer. 

The Two Rules of Parenting

Toddler Madison and I were waiting in a loooong return line at Target after a long day of shopping. Madison had reached her max and I knew it, although I watched her patiently roaming around and still staying close to Momma. 

And then she took me by surprise, I watched with confused eyes while Madison laid down on the floor and began to kick her legs and pound her fists on the floor of Target. I could hear the judgemental inhales and the eyes of those around me almost burned through me.  I walked over, scooped up my little girl and returned to the line. She sat on my hip, waiting…again…patiently. 

When the stares had turned away from us, I whispered to Madison, “What was that about?”

She smiled and whispered back to me, “I saw that on Tom and Jerry.”

“Oh.  OK.” And we continued on with our day. It was no tantrum at all, it was simply child’s play. 

I know my girl makes mistakes, some days more than others, but I wish that I could wear a sign that states, “I discipline my child for HER good, NOT FOR YOUR’S.”

I see children crushed when they are scolded and they don’t understand why, I see parents fold under the expectations of others, and I see judgemental eyes of those that think they know everything…well, ya don’t.

Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother” – which is the first commandment with a promise – “so that it may go well with you…”  Ephesians 6:1

“Children obey your parents…so that it may go well with you.”  Children are to obey for the benefit of the child!  Not so life will be easier on mom and dad, not so mom won’t get embarrassed at Target, not so others will think well of us, FOR OUR CHILD!  Obeying is the best thing for the child!

I believe children need to constantly, I mean every minute, need to hear:

1.  I LOVE YOU.

2.  YOU CAN NOT DO WHATEVER YOU WANT.

Generations/Personalities of parents tend to swing toward one or the other.  “I love my child too much to discipline them.” vs. the “because I said so” shouters. 

No!  A child needs someone to listen, someone to care, someone to explain, someone to buy them presents on a Tuesday just because they love them.  AND just as much, they need someone to love them enough to say, “you can not treat your friend like that because I love you,” “You can not have that because I love you.”

Being a mother may have taught me more than I have taught my daughter.  I have learned in almost every situation, if not every situation, I can turn the lesson back on myself and I see, “oh, that makes things make a little more sense.”

God says to me:  

1.  I love you.

2.  You can not have whatever you want.

He Sees Me as Perfect

“Do you have any questions?”  Dr. Paul smiled genuinely at Madison and then turned his question to me.  

After receiving a perfect bill of health at her two year old checkup, I believe he was surprised with my response, “Yes.  I have two questions.”  

He shifted in his seat, sat up a little straighter, and professionally awaited my questions.

“First, Madison sleeps a lot!  She sleeps at least twelve hours a night, sometimes more, and she still takes a three hour nap in the afternoon. Is this normal?”  

He smiled and assured me her sleep schedule was a great thing. 

So, I moved on to my second question, “She eats green beans allll the time.  Literally, she cries for them.  Is this a sign of Anemia or something?”

With my last question, he relaxed a little, smiled and simply commented, “Other moms would hate you.”

I had a two year old that was practically perfect in every way. And my response is, “Thank you Jesus!”  

Ya see, she shouldn’t be here. I have talked often on this blog about my little miracle baby, about my health, and how everything medical says she should have never been. But God does not care what we think, and he had big plans for a little girl that would sleep enough to let her Mommy keep the house clean, would eat her veggies, and would grow up to love every single animal she came across. 

I know she is human, I know she makes mistakes, but when her name is spoken, a word pops into my head, “PERFECT” and then I will continue to brag about her. 

And then I realize something HUGE!  This is how my Heavenly Father thinks about me, “PERFECT!”  Someone says my name and he starts to brag about me!  

Let me be the first to tell you, I have screwed up!  I mess up daily, hey…I mess up hourly!  But, not only does his love cover my multitude of sins, his love paid the price for my multitude of sins!  It was an agonizing, painful price, but he thinks I’m worth it!  

I mess up and I mess up again but my God picks me up, brushes off my scratched knees and encourages me to try again. I’m still working on it, but it’s ok, I’m growing and with my Father by my side, I can do anything. 

You are not Promised

Quiet, a pause in the deserted city.  The tactical team moves in.  Camo, gear, guns, training, this is the moment.  Footsteps are the only sound, turning, checking, on a mission.  Without even happening, it just is.  A man down.

Thousands, millions, billions of cars line the earth.  Driving the rough terrain, jammed in traffic, moving moving.  A daily occurrence that causes no thought.  Driving to work, carpooling to middle school, departing on date night, late to a meeting, speeding to the hospital, just a Sunday drive with nothing else to do.  Of course you did not know.  You never would have left the house.  And then it is all over.  Life is over.

A bustling Tuesday morning.  Coffee is brewing, a quick granola bar for breakfast, make a school lunch, leave the beds unmade.  The morning is rushed.  Grab a diaper bag and grab the baby.  And then that life is over.  A breathless baby, gone in the night, leaving desperation, panic, anger, and a life unlived.

Everyone always thinks it will be easy to go in old age.  Life is lived and the time has surly come.  They had been together through four babies, seven houses, three wars, forgiveness, choosing each other time and time again, and memories of 72 years.  She didn’t expect for him to go.  They had been together this long, surly it would never end.

Billions have come and gone and somehow we still believe that it will never be me.

I am Kinda a Big Deal

July 27, 2002, my heart swelled with joy and happiness as I held the hand of a man I never thought could be mine as he pledged his life, in every circumstance, to me me forever.  James Hendry is a freakin hot, godly man, that does not take lightly his responsibility to care for his wife. ME!  I am his wife!  I hold his hand and strut through town, “Hey. Look at me!  See me holding this man’s hand?  Yeah, you got that right.  He’s mine!”

A cold February morning, a miracle baby was born. My heart swelled with pride and love as I met my baby girl for the first time. She was the most gorgeous creation that I had ever laid my eyes on, and I could not take my eyes away!  Her beautiful baby blue eyes were an answer to prayers. Her teeny tiny finger wrapped around mine was a miracle living and breathing. Caring for her was a life’s dream come true. I have the privilidge of celebrating Mother’s Day, visiting a little cutie in her classroom, making healthy little lunches, planning birthday parties, and caressing the cheeks of a little beauty that is MINE!  What an honor to watch this little miracle grow into the amazing plans that God has for her!  I am Madison’s Mommy!

The King of King’s knows my name!  He thought of and planned for ME before the creation of time!  When I cry, he comforts me.  When I pray, he answers!  He doesn’t just SAY he would do anything for me, he has proven it!  He chose to endure the most pain than any human life has ever endured TO BE WITH ME!  He is God!  He could have thrown down fire and walked away and returned to heaven at any point, but he thought about ME!  If all the earth, and all I am, and all I long to be fades away, the God that rules it all takes my hand and proclaims, “My love, do you trust me?”  YES!  I trust you with my everything!  And now, right now, he is preparing a mansion for me!  It will have a huge swimming pool in the backyard and a massive kitchen stocked with fruits and veggies that never go bad. My floors will be gold.  (Hey, if the streets are, why not my floors?). And you are invited!  Come see me!  I will have parties allll the time!  Hey, I’m kinda big stuff!  I am the daughter of the King, not just a king, THE king!

Summer Promises

The gray has turned green and yellow.  The sun is so hot, I pulled out the sprinkler to water my newly planted flowers. Madison put on her bathing suit and ran over the grass with the water falling down on her. I love summer nature!

Being outside makes our bellies hungry and we slice open a fresh watermelon. Fire up the grill, pop open a drink, and slice up some summer veggies. My girl and I will hold a contest to see who is the fastest at shucking corn and we will have to shoo away Tucker (our doggie) who would like to participate and snatch an ear of corn. I love summer food!

Two more days of school!  Two more days of waking up at 6:15.  I will set the alarm for an hour later, or maybe a little more. I will roll out of bed and grab a throw and a fresh cup of coffee and sit and write. My sleepyhead will join me just a little later and we will sit and cuddle. When we chat a bit and begin to wake up and plan our day, we will make some pancakes. I will add bananas to mine.  She will take her’s plain.  I love summer mornings!

Pretty soon I will write about late nights watching fireworks, summer weddings and my crazy dance moves, the perfection of a fire pit and a backyard full of cousins, and Madison swimming with dolphins!  The dates are set, family awaits our travel, it’s going to be a celebration to write about!  I love summer promises!