Tag Archive | parents

To be known

IMG_2002_edited-1

CJ and I have a regular route that we walk and run together.  I’ve mapped this particular course #1 because it is a large circle, preferable when one is navigationally challenged, and #2 because it is exactly 2 miles and easy to calculate my efforts when I’m inclined to do so.  I noticed this distinctly marked driveway on the very first time around and it made me smile.  It still makes me smile every time I see it.  I suspect it is the result of an action without much forethought nor concern for what the local home owners association would have to say about it.   Just a young boy with a can of spray paint upon which the thought comes to mind to write his name.

I’ve wanted to photograph this signature for a while now but as it is private property and I intended to post the photo on the internet, I thought it wise to obtain permission lest I be considered some kind of creeper with a camera in the neighborhood.  I decided on my round with CJ Saturday morning that I would knock on the door and ask.  As I approached, however, there was no need to knock for the woman of the house was outside with her dog.  From the street I told her how every time I walk by her drive it makes me smile.  She warmly replied that her son had scrawled his name there years ago and while she felt she should probably do something to remove it and the now older teenage boy strongly encourages her to do so, she leaves it as is because it makes her smile, too.  She graciously permitted me to take the picture and I promised that I would drop by a copy of the blog once written.

One of my granddaughters is the age now that her son was when he made his mark.  She loves to write and gifts of paper and pen are always welcomed and treasured.  She writes her name and I love the perfectly imperfect way her letters and words form on the pages.  She writes little stories and draws pictures and writes simply for the love of writing, the strokes of the pen leaving an imprint of who she is now that will not be forgotten no matter the years that pass.  It is a bittersweet ache this grandmother’s heart feels as I watch her grow up faster than I would like.

It is not uncommon for children to write their names.  A lot.  On papers and tablets and books.  In the dirt with a stick or spelled out with rocks.  In the sand where the next waves will quickly wash it out to sea.  Carved in trees and picnic tables and more than a few desks.  And of course, the occasional driveway.

For some children perhaps it is a cry for help, a need for immediate attention.  But I think for the most part they are simply the declarations that  I was here.  This is me.  I am.   An unconscious, unemotional expression of the need to be known, a need we all have that deepens and most definitely becomes more emotional as we grow older.  We want others to know who we truly are, often before we even really know ourselves.  We sometimes seek relationships to complete us.  We enter professions where our talents and abilities can define us and accolades are our measure of who we are.  And while these things may bring a great deal of satisfaction and fulfillment it is not unusual to struggle with insecurities once left alone and all is quiet.  Who really knows us?  And if they did really know, would they still love us? Are me making our mark on this world in way that matters?

I think of how we look at our own children and see things they cannot see and know things they cannot know about themselves.  To know them is so much more than knowing what they do.  It’s recognizing the briefest of looks that crossed their face when no one else saw it.  It’s understanding their joys and pains when they have no words to describe them.  It is knowing that you’ve looked at that little face so many times you have every freckle memorized and would know if one should fade away.  And yet, we are still limited by our humanity when it comes to knowing another completely.

But there is One who knows.  He knew us before we were ever created in the womb.  He knows the very number of hairs on our head.  He calls us to come to Him as His children, unafraid in His presence.  We are fearfully made and unconditionally loved not because of what we do but for the simple fact that we exist.  We are accepted through Jesus as if we have never erred, sung and danced over with unadulterated joy in the heavens.  The impact we desire to make, the peace we search for, the fulfillment we long for is founded in a truth that is ours for the taking – we are known by Him.

 

To be known” was written by Kay Stinnett and first appeared on http://www.ourpassionatepurpose.com

Photograph by Kay Stinnett and cannot be used without permission.

 

 

Advertisements

Simple pleasures

IMG_1966_edited-1

I can’t completely describe the feeling I had as I watched my 86-year-old mother ride a bicycle this week.  My first thoughts were filled with trepidation at the idea of a fall, but once she began those fears disappeared with every sure and steady push on the pedals.

She’d been telling us for several weeks that she wanted to ride a bicycle one more time.  I must admit, our first responses were not very encouraging.  We tried quite diligently to dissuade her, offering up a couple of “safer” options – what about a 3-wheeler?  a stationary?  No.  Absolutely not.  Nothing would do but that she ride a regular, old-fashioned bicycle.  (Had she not mentioned it at church where a friend provided the bicycle, I’m sure we would still be dragging our feet in order to fulfill her wish.)  Her mind made up and her plan in place, we could choose to participate or not.  Either way, she was going to ride a bicycle after church.

She is in good health and has no reason to believe that death is at her door quite yet.  But just in case, she lets us know when she thinks of something else she’s added to her bucket list.  The list is made up of simple things. Some are places she’s never been but would like to go.  We’re not talking about traveling abroad or to places of historic significance, but rather the fact that she’s never eaten at Joe’s Crab Shack, and things like that.  But others, like this one, draw from the wellspring of vivid childhood memories which bring a smile to her face at just the thought of them.

My brothers and I were there to watch and take photos.  Friends from church hung around in the parking lot and cheered her on.  She didn’t know what all the fuss was about.  She just wanted to ride a bike.

I watched her ride and the simplicity of the pleasure on her face almost brought me to tears.  (Had I cried, she would have wondered what in the world was wrong with me, so years of training prevented me from yielding to emotions I could not explain.)  Even as I look at the pictures today, I feel this strange sense of happiness and pride and love and sadness all mixed together and there are no words that adequately describe it.  Now that she has a successful bike ride under her belt, she plans to swim and roller skate.  And with all the objections my rational brain is tempted to raise, I suspect that I will make every effort to help her do exactly that.  I will see her smile and be awash once again in emotions that stir me to my core.  But I won’t cry.  At least not where she can see me.

There is beauty in the simplicity of her heart and her life, a reminder to me to open my eyes.  There are simple pleasures to be enjoyed in this life and I don’t want to miss them.  She is teaching me still.

This is the day that the Lord has made.  

I will rejoice and be glad in it.

Psalm 118:24

Simple pleasures” was written by Kay Stinnett and first appeared on http://www.ourpassionatepurpose.com

Photograph by Kay Stinnett and cannot be used without permission.

 

 

 

My Father’s Day outing

IMG_1541_edited-1

 

Father’s Day I went to the cemetery.  I hadn’t been since the funeral and would not have thought to go on that particular day if my sister had not asked.  She and my brother were taking my mom and asked if I wanted to go.  So I did.

On the drive out to my mom’s it occurred to me that people usually take flowers or something decorative when visiting a cemetery.  The thought of me taking flowers to my father actually amused me, as he would think that ridiculous.  A watermelon would have been more to his liking but I suspected that others who may visit the nearby graves in the following days would not appreciate a rotting melon in the Texas heat.  So I took nothing.

I wondered how I would feel when we got there.  Emotions have always been difficult for me.  Not so much in that emotions are difficult to handle, but rather the fact that I don’t experience a lot of emotion that frequently.  I have often found myself feeling simply indifferent in situations where others were overflowing with emotion.  Awkward.  I’ve many times attempted to feign the appropriate emotion for the circumstances of the moment.  Even more awkward.  Having never been able to hide my feelings well, when there’s nothing there it comes across through the blank stare, and this just seems downright rude to those who are expecting a response.

This was the first time I had seen his headstone and it suits him.  It is plain and simple as he cared nothing about aesthetics; it serves the practical purpose of indicating his name, the span of his life, and the fact that this is where his body was buried.  I stood there for a few moments waiting for even a small hint of the emotions that others seem to experience at times like these.  Nothing.  No particular memories came to mind, no stirrings of grief or love that were any different from any other day.   Daddy wasn’t big on a lot of emotion anyways.  His bones lay buried but I know he is not there, so this visitation seems a bit contrived to me.  I imagined that  he was watching us from heaven and saying “Go home!”, an image that made me smile and that only those who knew him will understand.

My mom educated us on how it came about that these were the burial plots selected for them and the relationship of my dad to a few who were buried near.  Our conversations were all concerning matters of fact, which worked really well for me.  I’m better with facts than emotion.  I loved my father very much.  A love that was a fact and most certainly an emotion, but an emotion that was more just known than openly expressed.  It worked for me and him this way.

For many years I believed I was incomplete, that something terribly important was missing from my character in my inability to feel what others feel and my incompetence in expressing the things that I did feel.   Some things can be learned and I have developed over the years, becoming a better, more compassionate listener and communicator.  I said better meaning better than before, not necessarily great.  But some things cannot be learned.  You either have them or you don’t.  The times that I have met the emotional needs of another are the times that God has intervened to equip me with a supernatural ability for the moment.  And I am always so grateful.

So this visit to the cemetery had me thinking more of myself than my dad…one more thing that seemed inappropriate.  But if there was anything in this life that my daddy wanted for his children it was that they be confident in who they are.  My battle for self-acceptance was a hard-won victory, one that he got to see before he left this life and I knew he was proud, even if he struggled to express it.

I left the cemetery assured once again that I am who I am because of God’s wonderful grace and that my dad most certainly had a happy day watching us talk and laugh and love.

 

The dividing line

Some of you mothers and fathers will understand how happy I am when my daughter calls me to ask what I think, or even better, to ask me to pray for her when she has a need.  We’ve been close throughout her life, but of course there were years where she most definitely did not want to know what I thought.  I remember myself at that age.  Thinking that surely I was hiding my inward eye-rolling as I listened to and ignored my mother’s words at the same time.  (I had yet to learn that I am one of those people who simply cannot hide how she feels and that I would successfully pass this trait on to my daughter.)  When she calls (or texts), there is no matter too small or too unimportant or even too vague to be able to completely describe for which I will not immediately approach the throne of our Father on her behalf, and be honored to do so.

Last week something was troubling her but she couldn’t quite put her finger on it.  She had wrestled with this disturbance for several days with no real understanding.  So when I received her early morning text asking me to pray, I responded to reminded her that God’s ways are peace and love, that He gives wisdom liberally when we ask, and that He would reveal to her what the root of the problem was and let her know if it required any other action besides casting her cares. And I prayed for exactly that.  She called later the same day to share with me what God had revealed to her.  Problem solved.  Peace restored.  And a mother’s heart blessed.

She has learned to be sensitive to her spirit.  (She was listening!!)  This is the foundation of what it means to be made in His likeness, to house the very presence of God within, and the only way we can learn to yield our body and soul to His Spirit.  This is the filter through which every thought, emotion, and experience should go so that we can discern what is pleasing to Him.  This is the way we take every thought captive to obey Christ and live as conquerors in this life.

We are spirit.  We have a soul (mind, will, emotions).  We live in a physical body.

Our spirits have been made new.  We are new creations, old things passed away, all things become new. We have been made alive in Him, the righteousness of God, holy, blameless, and forgiven.  We have been given immeasurable love, unsurpassed peace, inexpressible joy, the same power that raised Jesus from the dead, and unbroken fellowship with God Almighty Who has chosen to overtake us and make us like Him.  Without this understanding, without truly believing this is who we are rather than just singing the praise songs and quoting the verses, we live frustrated Christian lives, constantly battling the turmoil in our souls, unable to determine which thoughts and emotions are from Him and which are our own.

So how do we tell what is from Him and what is from our own flesh or the influence of the devil?

“For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”  Hebrews 4:12

There is a line that divides the soul and spirit.  The only way to discern the difference is through His word.  Studying what scripture says and allowing Him to speak to us through the written Word.  Spending time developing our fellowship with Him so that we are sensitive to when He speaks.  Agreeing with Him that He has given us everything we need pertaining to life and godliness and is our ever-present Help in times of trouble.  Believing that we have truly been made new and taking that as our identity rather than basing who we are on how we look or act or feel.

Have you ever struggled with a task to the point of frustration only to discover that you had simply been doing it backwards?  We’ve been trying to make ourselves into what we ought to be by attending church and reading our bibles and not doing this or that, focused on what we do rather than who we are.  That’s backwards.  We must first learn who we are in order to get what we do to line up right!  We must discover where the line is drawn between soul and spirit and learn to live from our spirits, outward changes coming from inward power.  Learning to live our lives from the inside out.**

**Inside Out is a new study available to your organization, church, or bible study group in a conference, workshop or retreat format.  A five-week study option is also available to those in the greater Houston, Tx area.  Testimonials and more information will be coming soon on the speaking and events tabs on http://www.ourpassionatepurpose.com

The dividing line” was written by Kay Stinnett and first appeared on http://www.ourpassionatepurpose.com

 

 

 

Mushy oatmeal and another hard-to-swallow thing

As a child I often found myself the overnight guest of my best friend.  She was an only child and I the middle of five.  She lived with her parents and her maternal grandparents and I saw her as the center of their world. I so enjoyed my time in the midst of their love and laughter.  While I very much felt at home there, I was still bound by the rules of my upbringing, one of which was very difficult to follow on a particular morning.

My friend had fixed my breakfast.  Instant oatmeal.  My mother often made oatmeal for us but it was the real kind – old fashioned Quaker Oats that had to be cooked on the stove.  I don’t believe I had ever tasted instant oatmeal prior to that day and I must admit I found it awful.  It was mushy and flavorless and no matter how much milk or salt or butter or sugar I added, it still tasted terrible.  And while I could hardly swallow it, I stuck to the training of being a good guest, determined to eat what was served.  I certainly did not want to hurt my friend’s feelings and made a valiant effort not to let my face show that I found her oatmeal disgusting.  I failed.  One look from her Granny and she exclaimed “Get her something else to eat!  She’s gagging!!”  Granny rescued me and I was ever so thankful.

This morning I read an article that made my heart hurt.  It was just one of the many stories and posts so prevalent in today’s culture that I find hard to swallow – the public shaming of a child.  A child’s photo posted on the internet for all the world to see, their actions recounted for all the world to read, their souls most surely wounded.  I ache for them.

I confess, I used methods of correction with my children that I now see were too harsh.  I was a very strict disciplinarian who now wishes she had been gentler and kinder.  I’m sure every parent looking back would change quite a few things.  But I was a mother raising children quite a few years before the internet.  The disciplines done in the privacy of our home were not events that were broadcast to the world.  Oh, we young mothers talked among ourselves about what our children did and how we handled it.  But it was never with the intention to humiliate them into obedience.   We didn’t use shame as a method of correction.  We didn’t publish their sins.

Above all things have intense and unfailing love for one another, for love covers a multitude of sins [forgives and disregards the offenses of others].  1 Peter 4:8

Forgiveness doesn’t mean that correction is absent.  As parents we correct.  As teachers and employers and friends there are times that actions must be confronted and redirected.  But living in the kind of love just mentioned will lead us to deal with the issues at hand while also protecting the one who has erred, giving them mercy instead of shame.  This love refuses to broadcast their mistakes.  This love is full of grace.

I will be merciful and gracious toward their sins and I will remember their deeds of unrighteousness no more.  Hebrews 8:12

Jesus gave His life to provide our absolute, complete forgiveness and promised to remember our sins no more!!  His forgiveness doesn’t mean correction is absent.  But He bore the shame and humiliation of our sin and therefore He will never use those as a method to correct us.  He gently leads and corrects and guides.  His love covers ALL our sin.

He rescued me and I am ever so thankful.