Thursday, October 3, 2013

My Confessions to You

This post has been weighing heavily on my mind as I have been reflecting back on my life, my spiritual life, and the ways I wish I could have changed it.  This is so very hard for me to admit and I am opening myself up for criticism as I write this and publish it for all who know me to see it.

In all honesty, I have failed to make a good example for you.

I've done things that I am not proud of.  I know we all say that, but as I look back at my life, there are things I wish I could take a big pink eraser to and pretend they never happened.  Things that people don't forget.  A reputation I created for myself.  A life that I am trying to overcome as I grow into womanhood.

I have lived a life dirty with sin, and sometimes I am afraid that people still see those stains all over me.  That I am a falsity to what I say and do now, because my past still haunts me.  I am afraid that because I "played church" while living a life contrary to what I stood for, that when I am living right for the first time in a very long time, people still see the church player.

I need to apologize to you for this.

For so long, I stood on the stage at church and sang solos, sang in the choir, and performed in church plays while proclaiming the name of the Lord, and it was all empty.  All of it.  

I didn't know it at the time.  I thought my relationship with God was healthy.  If the church doors were open, I was there.  I am, after all, a product of a minister and a church musician.  I am a Bible Drill champion, can sing most hymns and praise choruses at the drop of a hat, and can quote scripture endlessly.  I've been on mission trips, to soup kitchens, Habitat homes, and Disciple Now weekends.  

But it was empty.

I am saved.  I have accepted Jesus.  I know I will go to Heaven when I die.  But there was no evidence of that in my life, besides my outward actions at church.  There was no good fruit.

Pastor Paul has been challenging us at church.  Is a life saved by grace really saved if there is no fruit?  If a life truly is saved, shouldn't there be evidence?  Do people know you are a Christian?  

As I began to examine my past, I realize that there is little to no evidence that I am a true Christian unless I verbally spoke it to you.

Oh, how I wish this wasn't true.

So I begin my journey into real Christianity.  True discipleship.  A meaningful relationship with God.  I know that I am changing, and these kinds of changes can only be for good.

Now, I warn you.  I warn you against the challenges of life.  My past is my past because of my own choices.  I chose the path.  

But you don't have to!  I pray to see you live a pure and holy life.  Yes, holy.  To be holy is to be set apart.  Full evidence of Christ in you.  To interact with people and for them to know that you are different, and it creates a desire in them to find out what makes you different.  That you would be bold in speaking out in your faith.  That you can spread the love of Christ with your actions and your words.  That you would never shy away from an opportunity to be a light or salt.  That you would strive to please God before pleasing boys, your teachers, your coaches, your friends, even me.

It is amazing what choosing to live a life pleasing God rather than your boyfriend or fashion magazines will do for your self esteem and self image.

Because you are child of the one true King.  You are made in His own image.  There is nothing more beautiful than the fullness of God, and you are a reflection of that!  How wonderful!  Do you still question your beauty when you read that?  You shouldn't.  Read it again if you do.

My heart aches when I think about the choices you will have to make in life.  Choices when you date, choices when you make friends, choices when you go to college.  Will you say yes or no to things that aren't pleasing to God?  Will choose the party over Bible study?  Will you disobey Your Daddy and me?  Will you give in to sexual temptations?  Will you blatantly show your disobedience to what we are called to and everything Your Daddy and I will teach you?

Or will you be a church player, like I was?  Hiding sins behind a pretty face and a nice singing voice.  Partying on Saturday and praying on Sunday.  Preaching an empty gospel.  Bowing your head to pray but daydreaming about what happens after church.

I promise you, being a church player is worse than blatant disobedience.  Being a lukewarm Christian will cause you to be spat out.  Be hot or cold, but don't be in between.

I hope you forgive me for my past.  I pray that you don't see me as a hypocrite, only as one who is repentant.  One who is saved by grace and is choosing to be better.  Not only because I am commanded to be, but because I want to be.

And never underestimate the power of a praying mother.  I can show you full circle the power of my praying mother, Your GiGi.  I can't save your soul, but I can pray that you make the right choices.  And if you don't, I can pray that you will come back around.  

I will pray incessantly either way.

I say these things because I love you.  I love you with a never ending, all time, expansive, powerful love.  But as much as I love you, God loves you even more.  There is no way to ever lose the love of God.  It's there for you to reach out and touch at any time.  You are His.

While a testimony full of tragedy and sin and repentance is interesting and dramatic for people to hear, there is nothing that pleases God more than a testimony of holiness and righteousness.  And we're all in this for pleasing God and bringing glory to Him.

There is no greater cross to bear on Earth, and no greater crown to wear in Heaven.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

You Are Growing Up

I've started this post about thirteen times in the past month.  I've never finished it because I get stuck - either in the beginning, or the middle, or the end.  Everything I say sounds so trite or so cliché that I delete it all and plan to start over for another day.  But today, I intend to finish it.
I have become increasingly aware that my time with you is short.
I watch you growing.  There are mornings that I pick you up out of your crib and you look like a completely different baby than you did yesterday.  Your hair, your facial features, your are different every day. 
You have made great strides in your growth milestones over the past few months since you began crawling.  Once I came to terms with the fact that you are a "late bloomer" in your timing, I enthusiastically wait for you to decide to move to the next milestone.  You crawled, and that was good enough for you for a while.  Then one day, you decided to stand up, and now I can't stop you.  You began cruising just this week, and I expect you to be walking by the end of the summer.  You will probably prove me wrong about that, because you are wonderful at making a liar out of me.
You've said "mama" finally, but it's only when you really, really, really need me.  Mostly, you grunt for things you want or say "ttssss" when you point to things, which means that's what you want.  You still say "dada" and "dog" and "hey there."  Since you seem to be focusing more on the physical progression, your verbal progression has kind of stalled.  That's ok, it's normal.
But with every new milestone, every new accomplishment, it scares me.  It scares me to know that in just a few weeks you will be going to daycare because we have decided that I will go back to work.  It scares me to know that I won't be there to watch your every move.  That I will miss your breakfast and lunch, putting you down for naps, playing picnic with you in the afternoons, and seeing every little smile and cry and laugh. That you might need me, and I won't be there.  That there is a possibility that someone else will witness your first steps or new words.  That these other people won't know how you like to be held for five minutes after you wake up or how much you love goldfish and pineapple or the songs that always make you smile. 
It scares me that in a few short years, you will be in kindergarten, then elementary school, middle school, and high school.  That you will make friends and face bullies and be graded on your performance.  That you won't always want to hold my hand.  That you will ask me to drop you off at a friend's house for a sleepover and then ask me to start dropping you off at the mall.  That your independence will be so strong and necessary that I am going to have to let you ride in a car with a boy and trust that he will bring you home safely with your morals intact.  That one day, we will fight over how short your shorts are, your history grade, or what college you will attend.
It scares me that one day I will drop you off at your college dorm room and we will stand in the parking lot and cry because both of us are scared to death of this new phase of life.  That you will call me on the phone instead of come to my room to talk about parties and boys and what you should wear to the football game.  That I will be at home without you.  That I won't know exactly where you are at every second and that you won't want to tell me.
It scares me that one day, you will call me to tell me that you've fallen in love with one of these boys.  And that boy will ask Your Daddy for permission to marry you.  And I will have to help you pick out a wedding dress and flowers and cake.  You will be so excited and I will be so terrified.  Because I know all my fears have culminated.  You won't be mine anymore.  You won't be my little girl. 
Yes, I know you are only 16 months old and it is probably ridiculous for me to be thinking about these things, but I know I'm not alone.  All the mothers of the world think about these things for their children.
And while I am scared for these things, I want them all for you.  I want you to experience the fullness of life that I have had.  That you will always know love and joy and happiness.  That your heart will be full of laughter and your phone will be filled with messages from good friends and your dance card will be full of good boys who want a chance to get to know your sweet spirit.  That you will always know your way home and my lap will always be open for you to sit on, no matter how big you are.
But right now...right now, you are pulling all the DVDs off the shelf.  This is a daily occurrence.  You stop to look at each one before dropping it to the floor.  Your legs are shaky as you learn to balance by holding on with just one hand, and in a few minutes, you will forget that you need that hand to help you balance.  You'll let go of the stand and fall to your bottom.
Then you'll look at me, with all your toddler panic, like you are worried you've done something wrong or you think you are supposed to be hurt.  All I'll have to do is tell you that you're ok and to try again, and all is well in your world.  This sweet little world of toys and Mr. Mouse and snacktime and exploring and doing all the things that you aren't supposed to do. 
You fill my heart with joy.  Joy that only comes from knowing how much of a blessing you are to me and Your Daddy and all of your family.  Joy that is a gift from God.  Joy that is a privilege to be your mother.  You are the best part of me and I will always be proud of you.  My lap is always open for you to sit and talk, sit and cry, or to just sit.  Even if you don't feel like it, I will always be your best friend.  And you will always be my little girl.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Catching Up

FINALLY I am able to sit down and blog for just a few minutes.  Unfortunately this will be a massive photo bomb because it's been almost two months since my last post. 
Thank goodness I am able to chronologically follow my photos to remember all that has happened since I last posted.
Over Memorial Day weekend, we went to visit Grandmother.  Your Grandmother is suffering from dementia/Alzheimer's, and we're not sure if she even knew who we were while we were there.  We still enjoyed the visit, even if it was tinged with a little bit of sadness.
You loved playing at Grandmother's house, especially petting the ceramic puppy dog that Grandmother has had for as long as I can remember. 
You looked absolutely precious in your patriotic dress.
You look like a big girl riding face forward in Your Daddy's truck.  I didn't want to turn you around, but you were getting carsick turned around back.  You are still rear facing in my car.
You love to drive us around Publix.  I hate when they don't have any of these carts available because you are a pill in the grocery store.  There was one particularly scarring trip that had me swearing off going back to Publix with you for a while, but these carts make all the difference.
You take daily inventory of our DVD collection.
You wore this.
And this.
We moved the coffee table out of the living room for you to have more space to move around. 
More people than you enjoy it.
We've been swimming in GiGi's pool several times.  You love for Daddy and me to jump in the pool and make waves. 
You also love for us to serve you juice and watermelon in your float.
This play kitchen that GiGi got you for Christmas is your current favorite toy.
We find many random things being "cooked" in your oven.  Wilbur, our phones, goldfish...
Lionel Ritchie was on the Today Show, and you were captivated.  You also love Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and clapping and yelling along with the audience on The Price is Right, Ellen, and Wheel of Fortune.
You still love bathtime, chasing your toys all around the tub.  You also love to throw your toys over the edge, put your hands up in the air, and make a surprised face like you have no idea how that happened!
We are working on coloring.
You crawl all the way into your room and clean off the bottom shelf for me every once in a while.
Your GiGi and I went for a walk with you in your wagon from GranBren.  You are quite the diva, demanding juice and goldfish and throwing them over the side when you are finished.
We went to the art museum one afternoon to see a new exhibit and spent some time playing in the children's room.  The interactive wall was fun and you loved dancing with us.
After the art museum, we went to the River Nile for a snack.  You were very fond of the strawberry shortcake, shoveling it into your mouth and saying "MMMMMMMMMM" after every bite.
You made this sweet little craft for Father's Day in Sunday School.
You also gave Daddy a book that you picked out yourself for Father's Day.  He loved reading it to you on his next night off.
We've entered the age of tantrums.  We are not amused.
Sometimes you insist on sitting in your wagon and playing right there in the living room.
At your 15 month checkup, you weighed 23 pounds and 10 ounces, were 33.5 inches tall, and had a big ole noggin.  Got a clean bill of health!  Dr. Freeman was pleased with your progression and we have labeled you a "late bloomer" with your stubbornness to crawl until you were 13 months old and what seems to be your stubbornness to begin to walk.  You teach us daily that we are on no one's time but yours.
You love to play picnic with Mr. Mouse, sometimes even sharing your food with him.
You are on a "meat strike."  I think it's because of those pesky molars coming in.  So your diet is fruit, veggies, and peanut butter sandwiches.  Dr. Freeman says not to worry because fruits and veggies are the most important food groups right now!
You and Charlotte conspire often to go on walks and beg for food.  Sometimes you both drive your mommy up the wall, especially on Your Daddy's work days.
But I love you more than anything in the world.