Courage

| December 13, 2012

What is courage?
For over a month, we’ve been teaching our boys that courage isn’t the absence of fear. It is being scared and facing what you fear, anyway.

With three sidelined practices behind us, and another looming, we didn’t know if he’d be able to get through it. He’d gotten so scared being out there on the court with the coach yelling and a gym full of loud kids, dribbling, chasing balls and doing what seemed impossible for him:  Staying out there.
We simply asked him to make it through a night of practice and just TRY. He didn’t have to be good, keep the ball in control, make any baskets. He just had to stay out on the court. On the first night of practice, the coach didn’t teach them how to hold a ball. How to dribble. How to throw.  The coach simply told them to dribble 2 balls at once. To dribble, jumpstop, pivot, pass, all in quick succession to complete strangers. To make a layup -first thing- on the first night of shooting baskets.  For my little one, these feats seemed impossible. And, I couldn’t help feeling a bit frustrated with what was expected of him, myself. So, for three practices in a row that stretched over a month and a half, he started on the court and ended up sitting on the bench in defeat, watching his brother participate. And fearing the next practice when it would happen all over again.
This week, he left home and arrived to the practice parking lot already in a crying frustration.
Just to help him have the courage to get inside the building, his daddy told him something that must have stuck deep inside. And, I believe, God did miracles in that little heart. His dad told him, “There’s a long line of men in our family who have courage locked up, inside. When you use a little bit, it grows and becomes more.”  And, they went into the school with the understanding that our boy just had to sit on the bench and watch his brother.

I admit, after those three failed attempts, I was questioning if we should just let him stay home. I didn’t want to get through this whole basketball season, which would span 4 months, and have him live with the memories of sitting on the bench, each and every time, after an upsetting retreat from the court. But, I prayed! Oh, how I prayed! I really wanted him to feel proud of himself for facing his fear. I even prayed that if God could raise people from the dead, surely he could help my boy get through basketball practice. This mama was feeling desperate! Have you ever been there?

So, back to the gym. He must have felt some relief knowing he only had to get inside and sit on the bench with Dad. After a bit of just sitting, Dad asked him to play ball on the sidelines for a few minutes, and he lightheartedly agreed. And after a little while, Daddy asked if he might still want to give it a try on the court, adding that our bargain to go for ice cream if he could make it through the night would still be honored. To my husband’s surprise, our boy decided to go out on the court with all the other boys. My husband prayed like never before, and our boy stayed on the court. Then, my husband’s heart sank our son came to the side…. and asked to use the restroom. Would that be it for the night? NO! Upon returning to the gym, he returned to the floor with the other boys! The entire hour went by, and he continued with the practice! He stayed out there! He tried! He acted courageous! And, he was even caught smiling and laughing and having a good time.

Basketball Victory Cup

I cheerfully went out to meet my family for ice cream to celebrate this awesome victory! When I asked my boy about practice, he told me “It was easy!” When I asked if he wants to go back, next time, he said, “I will. But, when this is all done, I never want to do it again!” We agreed that was ok. We were just so happy he faced his fear and he was proud of himself for doing it.
And, when he drove home with me in my car, he told me, “Daddy told me that courage was locked up inside of me, and tonight I unlocked it.”
Yes, you did, my sweet boy. Yes, you did.

First Day of Kindergarten

| September 4, 2012

Since before college, I had my life planned out.
Vaguely.
I would graduate with a bachelor’s in psychology, get married to a handsome pastor, have two babies and stay at home raising them -just until the youngest went to kindergarten. THEN, I’d either go back to school for my master’s degree or begin a meaningful career. I love helping people… so counseling has always been a dream. But, I’d love to be a writer, and I thought maybe I could pursue that. Or, I would pursue a different kind of education and build on my art skills. No matter! I had lots of time to figure things out!


Life’s Check List
Marry handsome pastor – check!
Birth two beautiful kids – check!
Stay home to raise the wee ones – check!
Send off baby to first day of Kindergarten – check! (as of this morning)
Direction for what to do now – uhhhhhh?….

I don’t really have anything figured out.
My little boy is having the adventure of his life at his first full day of kindergarten. Gone from Mom. All new friends. Lots to take in and learn. I encouraged him to be brave. To have anticipation for the good in it all. To go in with a positive attitude and then just see what God can do! He has no idea what this day or this school year will bring. But, he’s pressing on and into all of it.
I’m all for God-adventures. I want the full life! I believe adventures can only be true adventures if they are a little scary, a little exciting and (at least) a little fun! I’m sure that’s what my kindergartener is experiencing on his first-day adventure.
Me? I’m at home with a lot of mixed emotions. I have a bunch of questions. I miss my boys but I’m excited for what’s to come. I have an adventure of my own to begin. Schooling & a full time career aren’t even on my radar. I’m a bit scared about life’s details, but I know I can trust God for every one.
To start, I think I’ll just take a little time to enjoy a quiet house. To rest. To seek after God’s heart and His real direction for me. To do some of the things I’ve had on the back-burner for a while. I think I’ll just give myself a teeny bit more time. I’m thankful for today and all the possibilities.
What about you? What does the start of this new school year mean for you?

Food Fill-Up

| July 21, 2012

One cozy evening on the couch, my sons and I were watching an emotional episode of “The Secret Millionaire.” A secretly successful businessman volunteered with a food pantry. The line of those in need was too long for everyone to receive what they came for. The show ended with a HUGE, unexpected donation, enabling the organization to be more effective and continue feeding the hungry. The rich man also promised to continue giving of his time in this meaningful way. My boys and I discussed how we would love to volunteer if an opportunity like that ever became available. Within DAYS, we heard of a similar, first-time event to feed those in need in our own neighborhood.

First -Ever Food Fill Up at Evergreen Church in Stevens Point, WI

Evergreen Community Initiatives had been selected by Feeding America to distribute more than 10,000 pounds of food to Portage County residents, thanks to another man’s generous donation and Evergreen’s willingness to make it happen. As the registrations poured in, the amount was increased to 15,000 pounds. On Thursday, July 19, in Stevens Point, WI, over 17,000 pounds of food was given away to those in need!

Even as a pastor’s wife in a church family that I truly love – Highland Church – I jumped at this opportunity to join Evergreen Church to make an impact in our community for Christ!  I believe God loves to see His people, family members of different churches, acting as the united Body of Christ in the common purpose of shining the real gospel. Shouldn’t neighbors come together for great things?!

When my sons and I arrived at 9:30 am, there were already around 50-60 volunteers from Evergreen Church, Feeding America, college students from across the state along with local volunteers like ourselves. People were bagging items, directing traffic and organizing everyone for the job to be done. It was all performed with such efficiency that I overheard various Feeding America organizers share that this was one of the most organized events they’ve ever participated in. And, this was a first-time endeavor!

My sons worked together to bag up groceries for the Food Fill-Up

The event opened early, just before 10 am, and went until 7 pm. Guests could drive right up to the building to register -with absolutely no limitations based on income. Volunteers would then put an entire bag of dry goods into the recipients’ trunks, followed by a bag of meat, fresh bread, and fruit. People didn’t even have to get out of their cars! What was so touching was seeing people benefit from the optional “drive thru-prayer” before exiting the parking lot. My kids and I witnessed both recipients and prayer partners crying while they brought their needs to the Lord. What an amazing teaching moment for our children to learn how God’s people can help to meet both the spiritual AND physical needs of others! When we left at 1 pm, the leaders believed that over 1,200 people had already been fed and only 1/2 of the registered families had yet claimed their food. Food would be distributed for the rest of the day.

Here waits one of the prayer partners. Behind the truck is the long line of cars backed up for 2 blocks on the street, waiting to pull in the parking lot for food.

When the kids and I were driving home, I told them that the organizers were thinking about doing this, more, in the future. I asked if they’d want to help out again and both of them yelled out, “YEAH!”  We weren’t able to give a huge financial donation like the secret millionaire, but we felt like a million bucks after we gave of our time and energy to meet the needs of others. What a great experience for everyone!

Summer Nights

| June 27, 2012

Spencer Lake at Sunset

Summer, for me, means:

  • Fun
  • Rest
  • Reading
  • Riding Bikes
  • Playing at Parks
  • Time with Loved Ones
  • Games
  • Trips
  • More Time with my Boys
    And, of course….
  • Time at the Lake

I Love Mommy

| June 16, 2012

I Love Mommy

We’ve all had a mother. But, not everyone has had a MOMMY. If you have, then you are blessed!
I just found out that a very special person is (surprisingly!) expecting a baby! She is feeling a gamut of emotions. I know she will be a wonderful mommy! I also have other special friends who pray to be so blessed. Their hearts are all ready for the children they haven’t even conceived. They also feel emotional!  Then, there are those of us in the midst of mommy-hood! Do these emotions ever cease?!  Nope. Our hearts are no longer our own; they belong to our kids. That’s what it’s like, when it comes to motherhood.
And, it’s not just the emotions that are affected by these wee ones. I just learned that the DNA from each little baby stays, forever, inside the mama. (This, from my science-loving husband). Each baby will always be a part of that mother. Not to mention those outward changes we wish weren’t so apparent! Physically, mommies are different.
Spiritually, our world expands. We no longer pray mainly for ourselves or our man. We can’t help focusing our energies on praying for our baby. We understand the Father’s heart in a new way.
I have a Mommy, who’s loved me unconditionally my whole life. I’m so thankful for the ways she nourished me and taken care of me. To this day, she thinks I’m the greatest girl in the entire world. And, she tells me all the time. I’m blessed!
As I raise my two favorite boys in the whole world, I notice the ways I am like my mama. I even find myself acting like her. And, when I catch my image in the mirror, sometimes, I am shocked at the similarities between the two of us. We have SAME inside each of us. Mommies are a part of their babies.
I get so thankful when I think of what it means for me to be able to be a mommy. I’m so imperfect, but I truly want to be a great mommy! It’s an adventure doing my best. What could be more amazing?
I love mommies. Don’t you?

“Big” Plans

| June 9, 2012

12-2 and counting...

During the last week of school, the kids and I made BIG plans for the first day of summer. (ha!) My boys and I planned to wake up and drive away in our pj’s to buy a bunch of sweet treats at the Dunkin Donuts drive through, then come back home to watch movies and cuddle all morning and not get ready until we felt like it. (I know, I know! Such high aspirations!) Well, that’s what we did, and we had a blast!
Of course, with all that lazy rest mixed with loads of sugar, we were ready-to-go by 11:30 am! A bike ride down to the river to feed the ducks, eat a (healthier) picnic lunch, play at the park and come home again for a short break before going swimming at the lake. They splashed into the evening sunset and then heard stories of the “olden days” from Grandpa and his 3 brothers. Each wee one fell asleep during the late car ride home. What a great start to summer!
What are your big plans for summer? I’d love to hear your big (or small) ideas!

Prayers

| May 9, 2009


Change the World

 

Before my oldest son was born, I would pray, “Lord, make him happy, healthy and whole.”
Before my youngest son was born, I would pray the same, but add, “And help Him love you all the days of his life.”
Now I simply pray, “Lord, Make us world changers!”
You see, to be world changers, my sons will need to be totally in love with Jesus. They will need an utter dependence on Him, alone. It won’t really matter if they are “happy, healthy and whole.” God alone provides true joy. He uses the sick. God uses the broken.
I trust Him with their lives. I pray that I can be a true example of Jesus Christ. No matter what it means for any of us, I pray for us to have His abundant life! That we will go after God with our whole hearts and follow Him wherever He leads and do whatever He asks us to do.
Live for Jesus. Change the world. That is our mission. That is my prayer.

Come Alive

| April 27, 2009

“The glory of God is man fully alive.” -Saint Ireneaus

Sara Groves “Just Showed Up For My Own Life”Sara Groves “just showed up for my own life”

Are you really living? I can honestly say that I’ve just started to truly come alive. There’s a difference between knowing something in your head and knowing it in your heart. I finally believe, with all my heart, that Christ loves me and He has a special purpose for me, every day of my life. A growing realization of who I really am, in Christ, has been changing my life. Understanding who He made me to be is allowing me to glorify Him in new ways.

I glorify Him because of who I am. I am His creation, a unique woman who has individual interests and value aside from any of the roles I play in my life. I am also Nathan’s wife, the boys’ mommy, a writer, an artist, a photographer and an up-and-coming modern day abolitionist. I’m a Christian who thinks that living for Jesus is more about what I do in Him, rather than what I shouldn’t be doing in the world. I can say now, what I wouldn’t have said just over a year ago, “I AM a world changer.”

A part of what he’s using to glorify Himself is my realization and acceptance of who I am not: the stereotypical pastor’s wife (there isn’t a “typical pastor’s wife”, by the way), an amazing cook, the girl who other people might think I am… and most importantly, who I was yesterday. What freedom!

I pray the same for you. Seek after God. Receive His love and accept that you ARE valuable! He made you with a special purpose that only you can fulfill. I encourage you to glorify God by coming alive in Him! It’s the only way to live!


Part of Me

| April 27, 2009

Ethan smeared peanut butter crackers all over his face.

E smeared peanut butter crackers all over his face.

I don’t realize how much of my mom is in me, until I’m doing the exact same thing she used to do.

Today, my boys were still hungry (or “hoogree” as E says). They had just consumed their breakfast, and were asking for more. The trouble was, the cupboards were crying out for groceries louder than my boys. (Yes, TODAY I will get to the store!) So, I had to be creative. For me, that means I had to find something that doesn’t come already prepared in a colorful package.  

Ah ha! I decided on saltine crackers with peanut butter on them. It wasn’t until I was spreading that smooth layer over each cracker that I remembered that I, myself, ate these concoctions as a child. I probably haven’t eaten one since the 80’s, when my own mom served them to my brother and me. It made me smile to realize that she met my needs in the exact way that I was, for my own boys, today. I’m sure that when my mom prepared those crackers in our small apartment kitchen, she didn’t imagine me doing the same thing for her grandchildren, someday.

I wonder what kinds of things my boys are picking up from me that they will someday replicate for their own children. I sure hope that they are picking up more than just menu ideas.

I pray that, by God’s grace, they are witnessing a genuine example of Christ. Although I’m a woman filled with human flaws and failures, I hope that they sense that I am relying on God’s power and Spirit to be all He desires me to be. I pray that I am worthy of their imitation (1 Corinthians 4:13).

My mom is a neverending song in my heart of comfort, happiness, and being.  I may sometimes forget the words but I always remember the tune.  ~Graycie Harmon