Selfies, Parenting & Walking on Water

Last Christmas, the only family picture we ended up with was a selfie with, as you can see, heads cut off, my grandbaby not looking, and my husband half hiding behind my hair. But the photo made me happy, and I wished my Facebook friends a Merry Christmas with it anyways! Sometimes the best photos are simply that candid look of unplanned moments—when someone reaches out their hand to take a picture and captures happiness.

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I once heard that it takes about 12 pictures to get a good one, so it’s still totally legitimate to take a couple dozen and keep the one that works! I do this all the time with photos of my garden, my family, and especially that little beauty on the bottom right of the photo above. I’m constantly deleting pictures on my phone to free up space for the next unexpected opportunity.

I used to be a “school parent.” I homeschooled my daughters Melissa and Jenna for several years and then enrolled them in a Christian school where I drove every school morning for eight years until they each graduated. For many of you reading this, that’s where you are today. You get it…how when we’re parenting kids, there are so many of those “save-able” moments, the ones we absolutely want to keep!

But then those other times. Those times when, looking back, we wish it were possible to hit a little button and permanently delete. I imagine you know exactly what I’m talking about. Yelling when we’re running late to school, exasperation when homework remains unfinished and it should be bedtime, impatience which really stems from our own lack of sleep rather than what our kids are doing. (And, Jenna says I can tell you about all our fights over the little rubber bands for her braces…but I almost don’t want to.)

I had PLENTY of those moments when my kids were growing up. (I still do.) So I’m thankful that although we might not get actual, complete “do-overs” in parenting, we definitely get re-starts—possibilities to begin again, to reach out a hand with another opportunity to know our kids better, love them, and be the best we can be for them.

It’s hard. Yes, it’s hard. I recently read a Facebook update about a parent facing unexpected pre-Christmas surgery for her daughter. I know more than one parent going through an illness of their own. Moms and dads wondering where to find the money for just a little Christmas shopping. Parents who are hurting deeply because their children are hurting.

To me, that was pretty much the worst.

have these words hanging in my office: You call me out upon the waters. Maybe you know the song Oceans by Hillsong which tells the story from Matthew 14 of Peter being called by Jesus to get out of his boat and walk on the water towards Him.

Wow. What would you have done?

I wonder, would I step out of a boat and try to walk towards Jesus on top of deep water? What kind of faith does this take? Where does that courage come from? I’m still learning that it means looking only to Him to do what, humanly speaking, would not be possible. Peter did step out of the boat, but when he temporarily lost faith and started to sink, he desperately looked up to Jesus to rescue him.

I’ve been thinking this season that maybe God calls us to step out of the boat and into the water more often than we think—and the only stipulation for success is to keep our eyes on Him. Moms and dads, if you feel like you’re failing (sinking!) more than you’re succeeding, if you’re needing do-overs more than savoring picture-perfect moments, let me tell you that God’s grace abounds in the deepest waters!

Even if you’re familiar with this song, consider listening to it again with your role as a parent in mind. Let God speak to you about looking above the waves and finding Him in the mysteries and challenges of parenting—and of life. Then why not think about doing something fabulous with your kids this holiday season, completely unrelated to giving them a tangible gift? Something unexpected, where you listen, you laugh, you do what they want, eat what they want, but mostly where you’re all there and all in…for them.

You might not end up with all picture-perfect selfie moments with your family this Christmas, in fact there might be some you just want to throw away and forget. But step out in faith anyway. Keep your eyes above the waves. Walk on the water to Jesus—and then let your kids see your own real faith and love for Him.

Ten Things I Still Want to Learn

My daughter Jenna recently blogged at jennakristine.com. about ten things she still wants to learn. I felt like I was seeing an entirely new dimension in her as I read how she wants to learn more about art history, kickboxing, and how to stay motivated in cleaning her studio. Ok, well that last one actually wasn’t too surprising.

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I mean, seriously, though. Even though I think I know Jenna pretty well, it was fascinating to see all these areas of potential growth, mixed in with her almost non-funny humor. Her question stuck with me: What are ten things you still want to learn?

And so I took the challenge. I’m 27 years older than Jenna, with some vastly different interests. Nonetheless, here are ten things I still want to learn, in the order they come to mind.

1. Navigating our U-verse system better. I want to be able to watch what I want to watch and find what I want to find. I’m sure it’s not rocket science.

2. Advanced management of a WordPress website. This would be helpful on the job and for my personal blog. I’m sure IT at work wouldn’t mind me learning this, either.

3. Keeping up our fish tanks, from the scientific angle. I’d like to be able to keep the fish alive when my husband has to travel.

4. Cooking a decent burger on the grill—and on a completely different note, making my own kombucha. Maybe this summer for both.

5. Becoming more knowledgeable in the actual science of essential oils. There’s that word “science” again…

6. Writing quicker, finishing a blog faster, and not looking back.

7. (Stealing this from Jenna, although I’m a beginner and she’s advanced): Understanding InDesign and PhotoShop better. I need this in several areas of my life, and PicMoney isn’t cutting it anymore.

8. Navigating and dictating directions to my husband while he’s driving. I mean, I can follow a GPS, sort of—but this weakness isn’t especially strengthening to our relationship.

9. Laying out an amazing garden rather than just planting hodge-podge around the yard. The latter seems to work for me, but still.

10. Sewing. There, I said it. The only thing I’ve used a sewing machine for in the past 10 years was a Fred Flinstone costume for Greg. (And yes, he wore it.)

I feel obligated to clarify—this isn’t a bucket list of things I’d like to do, rather my list of things to learn and master. Also, it was harder than I imagined to come up with ten, and that was alarming in itself. At somewhere around 50, I’m hoping I always want to learn. Maybe in six months I’ll do an update on this post, cross off some things I’ve conquered, and add a few more.

My family hopes I start with the burgers.

What ten things do you still want to learn?

 

In the Morning When I Rise…

My first conscious thought that morning at 4:30 was unsettling. Still in a fog, I tried to push “work” out of my mind and go back to sleep. I still had two glorious hours before my alarm would sound.

But instead of snoozing, I began to fret about the day ahead. I fretted about having to leave work for a medical test, about the procedure itself, and about a meeting after lunch for which I was unprepared. I finally swung my feet out of bed and sat up straight to fully contemplate my worries.

It was then that I stopped myself—and prayed, Oh God, help me to not be like this! My full-blown, early-morning worry sessions had become an unhealthy habit, and I knew something had to change.

morningrisejesus

I tried something different the next day—and the next and the next. When I woke up troubled and anxious, I prayed that His love would permeate my thoughts and engulf my soul. I consciously refocused my thoughts on the goodness of God and reminded myself: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never…end; they are new every morning.*

It didn’t feel natural, and it didn’t come easy. I had to make myself do this every single day.

As those winter mornings turned to spring mornings, I continued to pray in those hours before dawn: God, no matter what I face today, thank You for remaining faithful! Then one day I realized I had finally turned a corner—and was waking up most mornings at a normal time, rested and at peace.

Call me crazy, and good thing no one except my husband has to hear me, but there’s a song I sing to myself in the mornings now. I love the repetition of these words as I make my coffee and prepare for whatever God brings my way:

In the morning when I rise,
In 
the morning when I rise,
In 
the morning when I rise,
Give 
me Jesus.

Give me Jesus,
Give me Jesus,
You can have all this world,
Just give me Jesus.

If you need a new tune to run through your heart upon rising, too, this song is below. Watch out, though. If you get these words stuck in your head, it just might change your mornings (and drive your family a little crazy while you sing it all the time)!

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.
Lamentations 3:22-23

 

*Morning-Rise graphic by jennakristine.com