Daily Devotion

“High King of heaven, Lord of the years and sovereign over time and history, grant to us such an overpowering knowledge of who you are that our trust in you may be unshakable. Grant to us too a sufficient understanding of the signs of the times in which we live that we may know how to serve your purposes in our generation and more truly be your people in our world today. To that end, O Lord, revive us again and draw us closer to yourself and to each other. Where there is false contentment with our present condition, sow in us a holy restlessness. Where there is discouragement, grant us fresh hearts. Where there is despair, be our hope again. For your sake empower us to be your salt and light in the world, and thus your force for the true human flourishing of your shalom. In the name of Jesus, Amen.”

Oz Guinness

Photo Credit: “Faluka Boats on the Nile” present day Cairo. By myself. 

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Let them choose to be OURS

My response to this article that came to me via Facebook, on an issue that continues to burden my heart.
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Are children suffering from identity issues in our country? Yes. Are they confused, troubled and in fear of rejection? Many are, yes. Is it all about being homosexual? A most profound NO. The struggle for identity has been our burden for thousands of years, and it only seems that each generation has a new take on it.
 
My son identified himself as “Rabbit” this morning, from Winnie the Pooh. He might go on pretending to be rabbit for several months even! Is there a problem? Was he “misassigned” as a baby and is really a rabbit? I know I’m oversimplifying, but not from ignorance, rather, I know what it’s like to have faced childhood experiences that severely damaged my sexuality and caused me to struggle with what society now calls “gender identity”. But what my mom did for me was to affirm my femininity and womanhood and my identity as her daughter, and a daughter of God. This wasn’t in conflict or agreement with “gender”, it when beyond the changeable, malleable externals and spoke to my heart.
 
Children need us to speak to their HEARTS, to put aside the external “choices” and issues they will undoubtedly face long enough to assure them that they are OUR children. They are a part of a COMMUNITY that LOVES them no matter what. THAT resolves all identity issues, from struggling as an immigrant in a new country with a new religion, to gender, to abuse. We need to give our children the choice to be OURS.
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From a Facebook Memory

This post popped up in my memories feed today and while it doesn’t touch on what we learned during a miscarriage, and the feeding difficulties from my daughter which were later, it is still a vital part of parenting. Now that I’m working my way towards an academic doctorate and a few more years of parenting under my belt, this is still true. Our little story saved lives, and validated mothers who were years away from their own traumatic duties but still feeling the frustration. You’ll always be afraid to tell your story, but conquer it! You might be just what the doctor ordered.

The most important thing I’ve learned in mothering is to trust my instincts.When I first started noticing that something with Samuel was not right, it was very difficult to convince anyone else. Everyone had good intentions and there are many anxieties for young mothers that relax over time and so the encouragement did bring a measure of peace, but this was different, and it wasn’t getting better.  During the first months of feeding problems that led to the discovery of Samuels abnormally small airway, I met two wonderful lactation consultants who both would tell me, “trust your instincts!” It gave me confidence to act and do many things that I am sure, short of hospitalization, saved my son’s life. Now, the point isn’t to constantly be looking for something to go wrong with your precious baby, but you need to know that you are his mother and that there well be times when doctors are wrong and you know it in your gut but don’t know what to do. Trust yourself. At least enough to go look for another opinion, or to find help like what God brought to me. I never thought I would visit a speech therapist regularly for my infant, but she and my lactation consultant saved my sons life. They helped me put the puzzle pieces together as his mother, trusting the information I gave to figure out how to help him breath and eat, showing me how to strengthen his tiny mouth to be able to suck.

We’re going to visit the speech therapist today for help with eating solids. My grandfather says, You all never had eating problems! That may be true, but it made me wonder how many mothers and fathers lived with months, even years of frustration with a new born and young toddler because they assumed the behavior was normal. Samuel thrusts his tongue. Most babies do and it is supposed to go away at about 6 months. His didn’t and so rather than wait and be frustrated with the feeding mess as squash and peas dribbled down his chin, I started some things on my own from what I learned while nursing to help him stop. He is a pro now in my mind and learning fast, but I’m going to take him to an expert anyway. Not to try to find a problem where there is none, but because I know it is what’s best for Samuel! I don’t want him to just be a good eater, I want him to be a great eater, and it’s my job as his parent to help him achieve that. School has started already! From day one. And YOU mommy and daddy are the best, most well equipped teacher your children can have. There are people out there who will listen to you if you need help, doctors who trust their patients, nurses, lactation consultants, speech therapists, and other parents. Don’t be afraid, even if you are wrong, to say, “no, I don’t think that’s right.” Every child you raise is a doctoral thesis, if you truly feel uneducated, learn! and find people to teach you. Don’t underestimate yourself or what you believe to be best for your child!

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My son now, practicing his daddy skills.

Advent – A week of Hope

I have time to write again! And no better time than my favorite time of the year.

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Beginning Advent with HOPE.  Wow it’s been an adventurous few months! We moved across the country, made friends in a new place. God brought us to a blessed little church and a school that has been the source of healing and rest. We have a home, which takes some fighting for but we are surrounded by people who give their time, and many other things, so willingly that there’s almost no stress in it.  When Gloria fell I could leave Samuel with the librarian to read (heaven for my boy) and another woman drove me and Gloria the 100 feet to the clinic so I didn’t have to walk in the rain :-).   Nathan works at home or no less than ten minutes away from us most of the time so we are able to continue giving the children and ourselves so much precious time and love. 

As my father in law said God carved us out a place and brought us to it!  We’ve hoped for such a place rest and grow for a long time it seems and there is so much more waiting to be discovered. Like one large present still being unwrapped, and the more we embrace it and look for what He has next the more peace and joy is in the finding. Our celebration of hope this week is that of hopes fulfilled, hope delayed and deferred no more, heart-sickness beginning to heal.

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Photos taken at CaneCreek Park in North Carolina.

Open Doors – a part of my art journey

I’m THRILLED. My theology professor

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was fascinated by my interest in using the arts to teach theological and doctrinal truths and he’s going to let me compose a piece on the Trinity instead of writing a paper!!!!  Ahhhhhh!  I’ve been waiting for God to open doors like this, I’m so excited to challenge some norms, push myself and really create something excellent AND beautiful.

The Christian world desperately needs artists who are compelled to create groundbreaking work, not to compromise and not to limit themselves with stereotypes.  I think that dance is perhaps the most non-existent form practiced by Christians in a manner that turns heads and truly makes people think and be inspired.

Decorated by some of my recent photographY, playing with shadows.

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Daily Devotion – Listening

A view of our lake on the JAARS campus in NC.

A view of our lake on the JAARS campus in NC.

“Spiritual listening is a contemplative undertaking and not a problem solving task.  It is essentially prayer…

“Spiritual listening as a contemplative discipline pushes us…to a level of listening beyond our own powers of analysis to the grace and the gift of divine life itself.

“To listen this way is to listen with heart and mind opened wide.  It invites us to be changed along with those to whom we listen.”

-Wendy Wright, Desert Listening

I’ve been meditating on this a lot this week. Motherhood is busy to say the least, not to mention family, work, etc. It is easy to feel that prayer is more of a hurried conversation than a refreshing experience of deep intimacy with our Creator.  But when we go out with friends or have a romantic evening with our spouse the last think we want be thinking about is time, and that is an essential part of true listening and prayer with God as well.  Let go of time, make time to leave the phone and the clocks and the schedules and find a place to listen to God.  There is a reason many people chose the desert, there is beauty but there is also emptiness.  No distractions, no time, just God.