From Living to Loving

God, thank you for Joyce Meyer’s ministry. Her book, “Living a Life You Love: Embracing the Adventure of Being Led by the Holy Spirit,” made me know immediately that several things needed to change – not only in my mentality/belief system (from feeling it’s okay to live life, to knowing that you mean for us to love life.) Your word says you came, Jesus, to give us abundant life, joy to the full – in this part of life, on this side of heaven.

I’d just had my hair washed and blow dried. I was sitting in the hair salon 💇🏽with my hair pinned up, waiting for my hair to be flat ironed when I started reading.

I wasn’t far in before I came across an analogy that I’ve been using since I read it: An $84,000 deposit into my checking account that zeroes our at the end of the day, wiping out of existence any balance of that amount left unspent… Joyce Meyer compared that to 84,000 seconds God gives us every single day, in order to make readers think about how they are s p e n d i n g something even MORE precious than money – time.

I knew I needed to book more trips with my family and step out on my educational journey (maybe with Todd White’s online school.) I need to volunteer to hold the babies in the hospital that need holding.

The book also helped me confirm that this trip is exactly what needed to happen next. Because it’s something I always thought would never happen – COULD never happen.

This post is worship – considering your identity and ways, God. It is praise. Because you have revealed to me, God the Holy Spirit: I am delivered by Christ’s broken flesh, truly. I am healed. I am loved. I am seen and led and created with purpose. Your power is for me – always, which gives me influence. And I have love – your love for people, for your purpose and plan and salvation of your lost possession.

I experienced it on this trip I thought could never happen. As my children (your reward to us) have been saying: I can’t believe I’m actually here. We’re not just watching on TV or reading in books about it – in other words, sitting on the sidelines of life, just living. We are in the game and living life, being transformed. By your Spirit, going from victory to victory and growing in the knowledge of LORD Jesus… Humility. Wisdom. PATIENCE. Trusting you. Praying about everything. Speaking life. And when we fall into the pit, allowing you to pull us out, repenting (changing our mind about our attitudes and behavior), so we can see you – moment by moment, resurrecting our days for new beginnings.

I hear you saying through these experiences and that book: If you will trust me and take another step, I will give you victory and growth. It’s prepared in advance for you. All you have to do is walk around the corner. Many victories have been written in your book, Child; and you will see as many as you have the faith to take – by continuing to walk. Continuing to step out of the comfort zone of your own wisdom…to hear the wisdom that is as high from your wisdom as the heavens are from the earth – that is, the wisdom which you created to walk beside me in the creation; even your creation, child, before I laid the foundations of the earth (See, Proverbs 8:21-23.)

There. Is. More. For the children of God, who will believe that God will give them all the territory they will take.

Thank you, God, for everything. Amen 🙏🏾

Re-commitment Revelations Found in the Wilderness of Distractions

So many things have happened since I last blogged about my unique take on friendship and, being a mom and wife in Christ… No writing has been happening, but I have cleared my office of a lot of completed yet unsuitable manuscripts that had been gathering dust. And, I’ve spent about 10 months not sleeping at night, along with my husband. And, finally, I’ve asked God the Holy Spirit to clean house inside of me. Look, be a w a r e that when you ask for something like healing or growth in any area: You’re actually asking to see the dank basement areas inside of you – the places with the cobwebs… The places that loved darkness more than the light…

You’re gonna need the grace of God to reveal Himself as Christ then – if you’re going to be able to handle the Pandora’s Box that prayers like that open up before us. You’re going to need God’s hand on you (His power). You’re going to need His love.

When I started praying for patience and inner healing and searching for places to feed my starving Spirit (Wo)man the Word of God, I came across lots of podcasts and social media posts that made the hairs on my arms stand up.

Episode 67 of The Love and Respect Podcast: Relationships | Marriage | Theology | Psychology, “Parenting God’s Way Part I,” told me that whenever (an older, nearly independent) child does the wrong thing (something with which we do not agree), our model as Christian parents is the father of the prodigal. That was big and new to me. Joel Osteen preaching about the effects of mental magnification – like holding up a quarter near our eye and how it would block the sun (appearing bigger than what is billions of times the quarter’s size) – made me think of Mary: “My soul magnifies the Lord…” (Luke 1:46.) Understanding that what we magnify distorts our perspective, gave me something to say when I got a call from someone who felt like a bad grade was threatening to blot out her hope for a career she’s  dreamed of… Joyce Meyer’s prayer journal, starting and ending your day devotionals, together with her advice about asking God who we can bless every day, led me to be a blessing and, to write prayers…and see them answered. Tony Evans’ Instagram prompt – to read Joshua 24 each day one week, was such a powerful reminder that we need to remember – that God is good…and the cause of every victory. Ron Carpenter, in the short time since I Holy-Spirit-stumbled into him preaching on the Hillsong Channel, has shown me in many ways: We really are only as delivered and victorious as we have been cleansed with the washing of the word, having our minds renewed, and having grown in knowledge… And then Stephanie Ike’s Instagram photo with Dr. Caroline Leaf made me stop and listen to her The Same Room podcast, which made me compulsively take notes 📝 for my family’s sake. And that podcast made me subscribe to Dr. Caroline Leaf’s podcast, and ☝🏾 O N E episode (“#64 How to help teenagers and young children deal with identity issues”) made me realize: I’m a bad parent. I’m literally doing everything (most of the time) exactly wrong! That’s a huge realization to swallow, but I’ve been praying. And in my prayer journal I asked to know these things – to be led by God the Holy Spirit into such understanding. So, that’s an answered prayer I can record, a token of His faithfulness.

And God gave me the grace to swallow and repent (changing direction); I’m already forgiven, and as Joseph Prince said in a sermon: Jesus didn’t say, “It’s almost done, now do your part!” from the Cross; He said, “It is finished!” so there is no more unforgiven sin, no breach between me and God for my works to cross. Therefore, as much as I can accept and take on the truth that I’m a bad mom is as much as I can be changed and healed. Paraphrasing DeeDee Freeman’s Instagram post, An excuse is an invitation to see the same issue again. Therefore, I feel good about recognizing where I am, accepting it with a big gulp, and turning c o m p l e t e l y in the other direction.

I almost forgot to credit God for using Ron Carpenter’s Game Changers series to help me see that being a servant and a living sacrifice – setting aside my own wisdom and my own dreams and my own isolated independence from other Christians in an organized setting – is the way to find out who I truly am in Christ. That is, the woman God crafted me to be – the me that is living according to His calling, purpose, and good plan… I have to be willing to set aside my own authority and selfishness to see that happen, and I’m renewing my mind to relieve the cognitive dissonance between that truth and the will of my soul.

Thank God for the revelation of His grace, which was a secret, riches stored in His Son and unearthed circa 2000 years ago. (TD Jakes posted Isaiah 45:3 on his Instagram, and God the Holy Spirit cross-referenced it for me in Ephesians 1:3-9.)

Soldier On, Mom

Maybe I’ve been watching too much of my favorite baking show, but I see now that parenting puts said parent on a floured counter to be kneaded and rolled. We get worked until the gluten of flexibility emerges. Life pours vinegar into our mixture until bubbles of strength come out in the fryer of reality. And if you plan to use artificial sugar… Well, you better know what you’re doing!

We need flexibility, like you wouldn’t believe and, strength, too. I hope you don’t mind me mixing a military metaphor into the batter, because parents are soldiers. Soldiers don’t get to choose their orders. They don’t get to decide whether they’ll be sent into this or that conflict. But the veterans deserve (in my opinion) honor for their service.

Getting in work, cleaning, or exercise with limited time is an ongoing battle – figuring out the balance. Waking up each morning and deciding out how the priorities will be ordered for that day… Under these conditions, it’s so brave to have goals. It takes God to maintain a positive attitude.

I have to believe even when I don’t. I have to answer questions when I don’t know the answers. I have to do it when I don’t know how. And I have to keep going when I’m finished. Exhausted… Discouraged…

I explained to my son what it means to be discouraged. I said: You know how people tell you it will all work out? When you’re discouraged, it means that you don’t feel like it will work out. Discouraged means you don’t believe it will work out. I also told him that we have to trust God when we feel like that.

I told my oldest 2 kids: You know now that you have both faced the same challenges. That there are universal challenges, right..? Well, there are more challenges coming. People doing sex (I said it this way, for some reason) and people doing drugs, right? Yes, it seems gross right now. But you might like it later or, have friends who do. You might want to do it or watch it on TV. Yes. And the things you said you’d never do..? You might want to do those things. But this is the thing: God already knows everything you’ll do that you said you’d never do. He knows all the good and bad things that are coming in your life. So, don’t hold onto what you do, okay? Don’t hold onto whether you’re good or bad. Trust God. Hold onto that. He’s going to take you through every challenge – the big ones and the little ones.

The biggest challenge is: this life, which, like a rapper said, is all wilted roses and no leaves. I don’t know about that, but God will take you through the challenge of this life to heaven, if you believe in His Son.

The challenge you face today might be to do with nursing or getting in some sewing or exercise during a child’s nap. But it might be bullying on the bus or in Math class. It might a sassy teen or a teen who doesn’t know how to manage his rage. It might an older child who doesn’t want to live through social media attacks to see that facts on the ground change in life; the world is bigger; and death is too final.

The beautiful moments of parenting are real. Developmental Psychology says: The moments of joy in our lives are spiked way higher for parents and that the moments of distress are lower. So, there is stress, and the struggle is also real. But an accurate picture of parenting is one that recognizes how the times of pure joy make being a parent a worthwhile occupation. And I think: Parents who have God as their foundation have their hope in Jesus to carry them through it all.

In all cases…my advice is the same: Soldier on. Trust God.

Babylon

My people, go you out of the midst of her, and deliver yourselves every man his soul from the fierce anger of the LORD;

And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that you be not partakers of her sins, and that you receive not of her plagues.

Jeremiah 51:41; Revelation 18:4 (King James 2000 Bible.) There are so many things that show how much this fallen world and its unbelievers are hostile to God for reasons that are not guided by or based on good sense. We study history, for instance. We believe in people and in the occurrence of events that no longer have any living witnesses…but we don’t believe in Jesus Christ. There is historical support for His existence and for the events and people surrounding His life on earth as laid out in the Bible, for His fulfillment of prophecy… Yet, people say there is none. They ask, How do we know it’s true?

So, Why do the same people believe any of the History they are taught in school?

Suppose there’s an empty lot near your house. You go on vacation, and when you come back, there’s a house sitting on that empty lot. Do you suppose that the house appeared out of nowhere – without a plan, planner, and builder? Of course not… A child knows that makes no sense.

So, Why do you think there are people who suppose that our world appeared out of nowhere – without a plan, Planner, and Builder?

Does it make any more sense to allow ourselves and our children to be a part of things that are damaging? If we, as responsible parents, knew that our children were inside a house where people were doing drugs, organizing crime, and otherwise presenting a present danger to them, Would we just leave them inside that house?

Or, Would we call our loved ones out of that house? That’s what I hear when I read the Scripture above – that is, God, in His love, encouraging us to get away from the things that present a clear and present danger to our souls… No, not our salvation, but our souls

“I have the right to do anything,” you say–but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”–but not everything is constructive.

I Corinthians 10:23 (New International Version.) Some things aren’t good for us. They don’t take us from God’s hand, if we live there already. But they do create stress and fear and encourage us in damaging thoughts and behaviors.

I go back and forth about this, but I think: There’s a reason I wasn’t sure who might be a Christian – someone who could advise me about Christianity – when I started looking for a guide to my new life in Christ 6 years ago; and, it’s not good (the reason.)

I think we need to come out from “her -” Babylon (Babylon being representative of a confusion – a conflation, if you will, of religions, politics, and economics or, globalism.) We’re distracted and enmeshed with the same idols as unbelievers. And, so, it’s hard to tell us apart.

That doesn’t mean we aren’t Christians (made truly alive and set free from sin through faith in the name of Jesus Christ.) It just means: No one can tell – that is, that we’re any different from them. In that sense, we need to think about what we’re doing.

Lord Jesus didn’t ask that we be taken out of this world, but said that we aren’t of the world – that God Himself is a spiritual prophylactic (for lack of a better word), which sets apart whosoever acknowledges that he needs saving. But sometimes Christians let the world try to teach us how to think and behave. We speak and live from its fallen perspective. When we look around and realize that we’re dressed up as unbelievers is precisely the time that we need to come out from under a bushel to shine our light.

We need to come out from Babylon, because as Christians, it makes good sense.

Influences

I had to stop the kids watching a popular cartoon, not because of the same sex parenting, which totally caught me off guard… They were teaching such disrespect and encouraging immoral motivations. When I said something about morality as we watched together (something I cannot suggest more strongly), one of my children turned to me with what my imagination interpreted as a Children of the Corn/Village of the Damned expression to ask me: What is morality?😲

Later, Praise God, the same child said of another show I was going to grudgingly reward her with, Horrid Henry: I don’t know if I should be watching a show about being bad. I don’t think I should learn how to be bad. She’d been watching it, but had since decided that maybe it wasn’t good for her in a surprising Parent Win.

What are we teaching our children? What are they learning? I was writing about the classroom in which we drop off our children regularly and without a second thought – the living room or den…in front of the TV. Don’t get me wrong, there are Supermoms who do not allow TV or devices, especially during the school week. And there are awesome parents who allot specified screen time for their children. I want to state for the record: I think it’s possible to be a responsible parent to children who have all types of unsupervised screen time.

I just don’t think unsupervised TV and device viewing works for me or my kids.

But there’s a whole other, ‘nother blog post about that.

While I want to talk about what TV is teaching, because programmers and screenwriters are most definitely teaching anyone who watches what they produce; I’m really talking about all of the teachers we don’t recognize. The teachers we don’t think of when we hear the word, “teacher -” parents, for instance.

I remember the days when I was young mom…and everyone who saw me wanted to “Mom” me as I was learning to “Mom” our first baby (We have 4 now.) Sometimes I appreciated that. Now, I realize that other moms trying to “Mom” me is something I should appreciate and not not just because they know things I don’t; it’s wonderful for other people to show their caring by trying to help me, One. And, Two: It’s awesome to find that there are still ways that I can learn to be better in this incredible blessing – the role of Mom.

That’s why I find it ludicrous that homeschooling is frowned upon. Of course some parents aren’t qualified; some teachers don’t have what it takes. But, What is a parent, if not a teacher?

I think we teach our kids about the finality of commitment when they see us arguing and then see us make up or, hear that we meant what we said in our vows – if we said: “till death do us part,” or something along those lines. They learn from us when we apologize to them for messing up and when we admit that we are messed up – imperfect and failing (as humans in bodies that have yet to be redeemed, even after we accept Christ.) They learn when we listen to them…and when we don’t. They learn when we take the time to intentionally share what we have to give – even when we’re not sure what we have to give has any real value.

But of course what you have to give as a parent is valuable. It’s the devil who tries to convince us that we don’t have anything. Even our weakness is used to help our children when we open ourselves in complete vulnerability and transparency. We just have to do our best, and doing that means something to our children.

Faith

I was in the shower thinking about Stephen King. He used to be one of my favorites, a reading obsession. Listen: I still highly, highly recommend his book, “On Writing” for writers. But I started reading a collection of his short stories recently, and it was kind of meh, for the most part. It’s me, not him, I think. I’ve changed, I guess. But I cannot take away from his role in my development and love of reading and writing. He taught me so many words, because I always had to have a dictionary handy in order to get the full view of his stories.

What he added most to me is the understanding of what it means to be a writer – what it looks like. Being a writer, he taught me, is like a lot of practices: It can be as simple or complicated as the person doing it. It’s a journey, and a journeyman chooses when he’s finished with the work. Along the way, he picks up tools and wisdom and style.

But pertinent to this particular post, is a view of God I’ve picked up by reading Stephen King’s work. It’s not ignorant of God, but there is a slant that I would call negative and atheist in nature. Proatheist may be more accurate as a description.

Anyway, during my thinking time in that shower, I tried to take the puzzle pieces of what I was picking up and cobble together the creed – the tenets of the Proatheist View of Christianity as best I could gather and outline them.

Atheist Victim Mentality

The devil and demons exist, but God does not. Or, He is indifferent, judge-y, and/or changeable. Evil and “good” (fortune) are random – like drive-by attacks that may hit “bad people” as easily as “the innocent.” 👆🏾This thinking justifies/makes logical the popular YOLO/Live for Today cultural perspectives: If, no matter what, “blameless” people are at the whims of fated drive-by’s and demons, without God to care (even if He exists to see); why wouldn’t a person be a little meaner? More selfish? Intentionally resistant to limits/restraint – moral or otherwise? Survival of the Fittest and Me First makes sense, right. Go for yours!

☝🏾 But, humans are not blameless regarding the state of our world, this earth. We have made and continue to make choices – to sin. And the heart of all sin or, I could say, the rotten core of it is: Disobedience to and rejection of the truth and identity of God. 

He loved and loves us, because He is God. And He isn’t a liar, to be doubted and denied.

21But now apart from the Law the righteousness of God has been manifested, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, 22even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe; for there is no distinction; 23for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus; 25whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith. This was to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed; 26for the demonstration, I say, of His righteousness at the present time, so that He would be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. 27Where then is boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? Of works? No, but by a law of faith. 28For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law. 29Or is God the God of Jews only? Is He not the God of Gentiles also? Yes, of Gentiles also, 30since indeed God who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith is one.

Romans 3 (New American Standard Bible). We all know or sense that this world is broken. But it isn’t an unfair viral attack perpetrated against “good” and “bad” people, randomly; it’s the result of free will – a consequence of the worst choice. But there is a cure by the grace of God, who not only exists, but cares – deeply.

Faith in Jesus Christ saves us – justifies us and makes us righteous, bringing us into God and Him into us.

Days of Our Lives

I nurse the baby for about an hour after convincing her daddy to : 1) pick her up from where she’s tossing, 2) unwrap her from her nearly obsolete swaddle, and 3) hand her to me. I strap her right wrist and fist into my nursing 🤱🏽 tank when I clip it back over her favorite side (the right). Then I eventually convince Daddy to re-swaddle and put her back down. I don’t blame either of us for the nightime grouchiness – not in the light of day. Neither one of us has slept, not really. Not since #4 was born… I think I’ve slept well once in these months after delivery by c-section.

There are 3 🧺 laundry baskets in our room at the moment (a triumph), and 😲 only 1 of them has unfolded (clean) clothes in it. But I’m concerned about the 😟 basket out in our hallway, in front of the closed doors to the master. There’s definitely poop to wash out there, and it can’t stay there forever…waiting for me…and my necessary Laundry Gloves 🧤 

I’m also worried about my son. He doesn’t want to go to school anymore. And I wonder: Can he be too bonded to me. 💭 Shouldn’t he identify more with his father? I think it might be a bad idea to tell Hubby that I wish he’d teach him more about hygiene – that they could both benefit from that interaction – Daddy teaching his son… But I feel so strongly that it’s needed 🙏🏾 

And why won’t my lovely girl 👧🏽 use toilet paper?

Why is she having such a time of it learning to wipe thoroughly when we keep trying to tell her? 👆🏾The expression on this dude’s face tells the story of the state of the kids’ bathrooms. It is really embarrassing to be in this situation.

We thought #3 had had a late breakthrough learning to tie her own shoelaces… But now I’ve just decided to buy her more Velcro ones in her favorite color 🤦🏽‍♀️ 

I have to write down the reasons that another child should be denied 🙅🏽 the next big thing she asks for (which I probably will not – deny her), because otherwise I’ll totally forget. Memory Wipe. Also known as: Mom Fog 🌫 …

It’s just past 3 am. Also known as the witching hour… That’s how many of my days begin now. The content of her day may vary, but one mom of young children understands the challenges and victories of another mom of young children.

One mom is using a wall of cardboard boxes as a fortress barricade for her 1 year old, so she can get her run in; another mom is sequestering her sick kids from the other Littles at the local library, so they can out into the winter world; and, I am hefting a car seat across streets and grassy medians. All I really needed was a measurement of my blood glucose for a wellness screening, but now I’m headed up what feels like a miles-long sidewalk for a physical.

The appointment starts after an hour of waiting and concludes with another wait for lab work in a tiny room filled with elderly people. All I can do is hope that all the things in my backpack and purse (nursing cover, pacifier, bottle, exactly 2 diapers, a new bag of wipes, 2 ziplock bags filled with clothes, a changing mat, and an infant nursery care kit, etc.) will be enough to face the potential storm of a baby waking up after a long nap in an unfamiliar place.

Writing this, I had to ask myself: What is the bottom line after considering how hard this role can be? Something a good friend said to me popped into my mind. She said: Everyday, regular life is sacred. You know what that means? Poopy Time, Discouraging Time, Silly Time, Annoying Time, Witching Hour Time, Embarrassing Time – every moment spent in this role of Parent of Little Littles is an honor. This sometimes invisible life is honorable.

We Can’t See Ourselves, but God Can

A friend wrote me a note right before my due date for #4, our third daughter… In it, she described my involvement with my children as individualized and invested. I thought of what God has done, because if that’s a true description – an accurate one – it’s a testimony to the manifestation of God in my life, the renewal of my mind that has made me more like who I am in the spiritual realm.

In other words, God is making all things new – including me 🙋🏽‍♀️

I read with our #3…and make sure she has her hugs, which she runs on as much or more than Cinnamon Toast Crunch or chicken tenders. I cook with our #2, and he’s, maybe, called to do that. And if not “called,” then wired or, made to cook 👨🏽‍🍳

I was sitting on the steps, dealing with Braxton Hicks and the hardness of wood under my bottom, anxiously waiting for my oldest to return for her things; a play date event had graduated to a sleepover after a vote and show of support from the Host Mother.

I started to do nothing, but anxiety pushed my heavily burdened body upstairs. My mind was racing ahead of those difficult steps. I knew what I needed, and God sent my husband up to put the finishing touches on all my plans – making him the bridge between what I wanted done as I sat, an exhausted whale of woman on our bedroom floor, with ✌🏾 bags: a resilient mesh tote for toiletries and #1’s Everything Bag. That’s the one with the spray paint and graphic writing design and the unrealistic rope handles.

We got her packed and went down. I trudged down to the stairs and stared toward the front door – with the eyes of my heart, waiting. 

My oldest had used the bag earlier – taking it with her to a local splash park. I’d unloaded and reloaded it. Her silver cross bracelet was in there, and as I waited anxiously to explain how I’d packed the bag, so I could hug her and assure myself she was “set,” I also held that bracelet. 

Hubby said I could relax, and he’d hand off. But I needed to see if she wanted me to help her fasten that bracelet on her tiny wrist. And I needed to hug her.

We are still a family that waits together. So, we all sat down in the filtered prisms of light that the front of the house offers in the dinner/right after dinner hours…

That moment of myself, that iteration of myself is what I was thinking of just before I saw that note 📝 from my friend – the one about my individual and invested involvement with my children. Before that note, all I’d felt from myself and that memory of me was my anxiety.

I write this on one of those days when it feels like: The devil uses the people in my inner circle to discourage me, while God is using the people who don’t necessarily see me every day to encourage me. Even so… Thank God for allowing friends to give us a window into how He sees and loves us.

*NOTE: Most of these posts have been published according to the real timeline of my life. But this one sat as a draft till well after the delivery of our #4🧐🤓

Perspective

Perspective can get distorted. Because we’re humans. Even if we’re Christians (made truly alive and set free from sin through faith in the name of Jesus Christ), we are human. Anger can distort things. Pride can distort things. Distractions can distort. That’s just one reason it’s a good idea to keep your mouth shut if you’re upset. When confronted with a problem, Think before you act.

I was faced with a son whose eye was on the verge of turning black beneath a huge egg and a thin, bleeding slice.

There was a snowy day mishap. My only son sledded into a plastic playhouse. I’ve rolled down hills, flown out of swings on purpose, and climbed trees. My little brother almost broke his arm in a crash we had one time. Eventually, he did break his arm while riding bikes with me. So many things made me think, Let the kids have their experiences, but then again… Hubby thought I ought to have him sent home. When he came, there was a distorted face of my son to contend with, and his eyebrow was dipping down unnaturally.

At that moment, I paused. Thank God. Because…what I wanted to do was lose my temper and make a lot of assumptions. God the Holy Spirit (at that moment) decided to teach me how to use the advice and live by the rebuke I’d been giving the kids: What are the expectations I would want someone to have of me – if someone’s kids came to my house to play and I was just doing what I’m doing? It’s not like I sent out an invitation, but I have a welcoming home… What kind of expectations would I want someone to have of me?

I’m trying to teach the kids to be mirrors – that is, to see themselves as mirrors. That other people can have the same feelings as them, the same exact reactions, feelings, faults, troubles, behaviors, or challenges…as them (the kids.) In this case, if I’m looking back at my neighbor in the mirror, and her kids came over here, and I was focused on what I was doing – with the baby or, making dinner, or whatever…and something happened: I wouldn’t want people to expect that I just knew everything from moment to moment. Especially if no one told me…

In our case, my son didn’t tell anyone he needed attention. He claimed his face didn’t hurt that much. Maybe it didn’t. Or, maybe it did – hurt (which is an issue of its own to be prayed about and processed and dealt with separately.) From a parental or supervisory standpoint, If you peek outside, you can’t see anything but whether the kids are all still running and in working order. So God really helped me with that – not to lose it and to keep the situation in perspective.

We’d just had an end to a family visit that was traumatic. A tantrum was being thrown, and I was feeling violence inside myself. I had to realize later, thinking back on it that: There’s a certain level of violence that is called for in things, at certain times. If you have to sit someone down or, if you have to physically stop someone from tantrum-ing, these are violent actions, actually. To settle and stop things takes violence sometimes. But then, if you keep going…it becomes a row that goes beyond what you want it to be. Violence has to be the last resort, usually. Sometimes you just gotta hug your kid in a situation and let him sit down and breathe. Then disciplinary action, consequences, talking and understanding – the lesson – can come later.

Well after the tantrum conundrum came the sled disaster. And you know how sometimes it feels like there’s just a thing and a thing and another thing? I’m not being specific, but especially if you’re a parent reading this, I bet you know what I mean. And that Thing After Thing thing almost swept away my healthy perspective.

But God… How about you?

 

Actual Hunger

McDonald’s gives me one less item than I order almost every visit, but it’s the TV 📺 that upsets me more: Out of 50 movies or TV shows, only 1 leaves me feeling glad I watched. But more and more I let my hair down and relax with a good…Netflix series.

Did you think I was gonna end that previous sentence 👆🏾 “…with a good book?” Probably not 📚 😒

22The light of the body is the eye: if therefore your eye be sound, your whole body shall be full of light. 23But if your eye be evil, your whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in you be darkness, how great is that darkness!

Matthew 6 (King James 2000.) That verse is talking about what we’re eating to feed our hunger. Are we feeding it with good things or, bad things? Too often we are gaming and watching ourselves into disturbing oblivion. We yell at screens. We disturb our sleep with the notions and language we’ve consumed through our eye 👁 gates. The verse above makes me think there’s a reason that a hole inside me seems to get bigger and bigger with the more empty (read: dissatisfying) things I’m cramming down, trying to fill myself in.

A friend of mine started logging her screen time (disturbing just because an app exists that allows you to measure such a thing) and found out that she spent way more time than she feels comfortable with in front of screens.

I would never want to measure my screen time. I’m afraid it would have to come in at something like 25 out of 24 hours a day.

Let it be known: I do not consider myself a hypocrite because I wrote this on my phone. I’m not scrolling and clicking and engaging in virtual rhetorical battle or buying. I didn’t swipe left or right. I wrote this, and that’s who I am – a writer 🙏🏾 

Though everyone should take a couple of days to binge Great British Baking Show and learn the fundamentals of proper bakes and patisserie (for instance, how to discern where the butter has leaked out and left the layers gaping apart), there are other things to fill up on. Christ, for one… And great books – the tactile experience of learning in a fantasy or non-fiction classroom called a real book… Actually looking into the eyes of people in your household – during a conversation or across a chess board… For me, there’s all of that…and writing.

What would you do if you weren’t posting and scrolling obsessively, trying to hide out from FOMO? What is your actual hunger, and what will truly feed it? There are other things to be – other than watchers, and there is more to reality than building one in a virtual environment to see how our fictional characters do life.

Please forgive my lecture-y tone.