Lifted Up

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It’s amazing how you can read Scripture multiple times and it rings true in a different way with each read.

In Exodus 17, we read of the Israelites battle against the Amalekites.

Moses said to Joshua,“Choose some of our men and go out to fight the Amalekites. Tomorrow I will stand on top of the hill with the staff of God in my hands.”  10 So Joshua fought the Amalekites as Moses had ordered, and Moses, Aaron and Hur went to the top of the hill. 11 As long as Moses held up his hands, the Israelites were winning, but whenever he lowered his hands, the Amalekites were winning. 12 When Moses’ hands grew tired, they took a stone and put it under him and he sat on it. Aaron and Hur held his hands up—one on one side, one on the other—so that his hands remained steady till sunset. 

Moses knew his responsibility.  And he did it with hands held high.

I’ve read this story several times.  But convicted by my lack of prayer, I wonder, why do I not practice this?  Several excuses run through my head.  Ah, that was then.  It’s just a matter of the heart.  That’s embarrassing, even in private.

Then I look at my son.  His earnestness.  No words, just hands lifted high.  A trust that he will be lifted up, embraced, comforted.

When I practiced this, I was overcome.  Humbled.  Now lifted up.

 

Skip the Instructions

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There is no manual that comes with parenting.  That said, my son, I will fail you.  I came into parenting with preconceived notions, as I do in many situations, and I realize I don’t have a clue.  But I do know I must learn to study you.

What I’ve learned so far:

  • Play in puddles.
  • Jump on the trampoline daily.
  • Love dogs.
  • Enjoy books.
  • Share a common interest.
  • Explore everything.
  • Have no fear.
  • Experiment doing things yourself.
  • Voice your opinion.
  • Slow down and swing twice a day.
  • Laugh so hard until you don’t remember why you started.

Photo by Betsy Markwald   www.betsymarkwaldphotography.com

Dear Son

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I never imagined how much you would fill my heart with joy.

Your curiosity, laughter, compassion and smile is contagious.  You must be where the people are and you force a belly laugh when you hear us laughing because you want to join in.  You make friends wherever you go.  As we pass strangers, you hear, “Ah, que bello!  Los ojos!”  You never slow down, not wanting to miss a thing.  You are fearless as you pull the dogs tails or try to mount them like horses.

You know what you want.  Even if that means taking the butter right off the bread to eat it directly.  Or picking out your daily clothing and shoes, including your pajamas.  You never stop chatting, even as you go to sleep.

My dear son, in just a matter of months, you have made me a better person.  I am challenged to grow in my compassion, patience, authenticity and communication.  You are teaching me to slow down and see the flowers, insects, animals around me.  You are teaching me to pray as you reach out for my hand and give an enthusiastic “Amen” every time.  You are teaching me to love, to embrace, to want what is best for someone other than myself.

Thank you, my precious boy.

Love, Mama

Photo by Betsy Markwald

Fraud

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Webster defines fraud as “an act of deceiving or misrepresenting” or “a person who is not what he or she pretends to be.”

I came across this term twice in one day by two different authors–Sheryl Sandberg and Brene Brown.  I never really gave the term a second thought until now.

When I speak in Spanish, people assume I’m fluent.  Fraud.

When I write each day and hit “Publish,” what do I hear?  Fraud.

When I talk with a friend who is struggling in marriage…Fraud.

When I brainstorm creative ideas and how to improve the world around me…Fraud.

When I voice my opinion…Fraud.

When I consider using my talent in a new way…Fraud.

When I discipline my son…Fraud.

How do we battle the onslaught of this particular lie?  Remember who you are.  So much of our energy is spent trying to prove something or worrying what others will think.  Remember where the lie comes from so you can fight it with truth.

The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance [to the full, till it overflows].”    John 10:10 (AMP)

My Next Fix

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I’m a “next thing” junkie.  Always looking forward to the next trip, the next activity, the next social event, the next fix.  When I don’t have it, well, I’m bored.

When I moved to a new country, sure, that was one long “next thing.”  But the high wore off when I realized how limited I was without language, work, friends or family.  I was frustrated every time I wanted to do something and couldn’t communicate my desire or find where I wanted to go.  So I found myself alone and bored a lot.

Oswald Chambers says “A true test of a person’s spiritual life and character is not what he does in the extraordinary moments of life, but what he does during the ordinary times when there is nothing tremendous or exciting happening.”

This season has been teaching me just that.  I have to work at cutting myself off from “the next thing.”  I am learning to stop hunting the extraordinary and stop fighting the ordinary.

So yes, my days may be spent on hold with customer service or hours waiting at the vet.  Definitely nothing extraordinary.  But I’m seeing what’s in front of me as I begin to recover.  There are people around me who are in the ordinary, and alone too.

Who are we in the ordinary moments?

This Is The Day

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Many mornings throughout my childhood, I was awakened to blinding sunlight as my mom sang “This is the Day”.  In response, I would groan, hide under the covers and wonder where she got that annoying joy from each morning.

Now, as an adult and a mom, I realize it’s a choice.  More importantly, it’s a discipline.  In my experience, it’s much easier to vent in search for sympathy rather than to think about my words or attitude.

King David in Psalm 34 declares:

I will extol the Lord at all times;
    his praise will always be on my lips.
I will glory in the Lord;
    let the afflicted hear and rejoice.
Glorify the Lord with me;
    let us exalt his name together.

We see David practice this discipline throughout his writings in Psalms.  What would it look like if praise was always on our lips?

He goes on to to invite the afflicted to join him.  What?  I’d like to think I am one to practice praise and thanksgiving.  In reality, I’m more prone to do so when or if things are going well, rather than in the midst of affliction.

When I complain, I’m inviting others into my misery.  I’m rarely considering how I can invite them to praise.

Author, Greg Ogden, states, “If we see praise only as giving God compliments, then we miss the everyday nature of praise.  Enjoyment spontaneously overflows in praise.  We go to an enjoyable movie and speak its praises.  When my wife and I take a Sunday-afternoon drive on a spectacular day, we keep saying to each other, ‘Look at that.’ Praise not only expresses our joy, it completes it.”

As for me and my house, we will praise the Lord.  May we be complete in Him.

Thank You?

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Thank you letters were non-optional in my house growing up.  It was a good lesson in practicing gratitude for the kindness of others.  Nowadays my gratitude seems to be more along the lines of Jimmy Fallon’s Thank-You Notes.

  • Thank you, Multiple Drivers, for cutting me off, when you can clearly see I’m mid-turn.
  • Thank you, Poorly Constructed Roads, for potholes requiring monthly tire repair.
  • Thank you, Fly, for laying eggs inside my dog’s skin that hatched into full-on worms.
  • Thank you, Taxi Driver, for zooming ahead on the left into oncoming traffic to make a right-hand turn in front of me before the light turns green.
  • Thank you, Woolly or Bear, for urinating inside again.
  • Thank you, Power Company, for cutting off power for twelve hours at a time.
  • Thank you, Litterers, for the mountain of debris outside my house.
  • Thank you, Charades, for being usual when my limited Spanish fails.
  • Thank you, Police, for standing in the middle of the road for random traffic stops while not directing traffic.
  • Thank you, Son, for removing every pot, pan and tupperware right before bed.
  • Thank you, Tropic of Cancer, for 12 hours of daylight year-round.
  • Thank you, Ants, for multiplying and leaving my house scented “Bug Repellent”.
  • Thank you, Roof, for leaking in five places in one room, including right over the bed.  Good thing rainy season is only six months out of the year.