I Am Growing Up

One of the best things about being a parent is learning alongside children. Starting back at the very basics and building from there. The continued education of James and Caroline began the day the test had two lines. 

With Madison in my tummy, her Daddy and I began to research and read like never before.  We were about to be responsible for a miracle called: life. One of my favorite pictures shows James sitting Indian style on our bed reading a children’s book. On first glance, it looks like he is reading to himself. You really have to search to find the brand new baby (maybe three days old) sleeping among the covers to know the book is not for his own enjoyment. 

One of my favorite traditions is, every year for Christmas, buying Madison a new Bible. We started with Children’s Bibles like The Big Picture Storybook, The Jesus Storybook Bible, I Can Read Bible, The Child’s Story Bible by Catherine Vos, and other jewels. With her Daddy reading every night, she has read through the Bible several times moving up to an NIRV Bible. Guess what that means?  It means James and I have been more consistent in our devotions than ever before. 

And when Madison wants to know why Evergreen Trees don’t turn brown, and every single thing about every single animal, and how to make origami, and where all the fifty states are located and who all the presidents were, and why doggies don’t get married. Guess what that means?  It means that Momma learns them also!

Recently, my little Renaissance girl wanted to learn to sew. So, (haha. Homophone)…so, her Daddy and I purchased a sewing machine for her birthday. You should have seen James and I trying to figure it out. But we did!  And Madison and I spent one of our Spring Break days purchasing fabric and making a travel laundry bag, couch pillows, and her new very favorite stuffed bunny. I can sew!  And that is one of the very small ways that having a daughter has made me a better person. 

Being a mother, gazing into the eyes of a precious little girl with a curious mind, has taught me something I should have known before I was a mother. Knowledge may be power, but LEARNING IS JOY. 

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He is Going With Me

I have a week off second grade!  SPRING BREAK!  Okay, it is my daughter who actually attends school, but HEY I get a break also. I can hit snooze a few more times, a week off making school lunches, no setting out uniforms, a break from carline, and I get to keep my girl with me from 8:00 – 2:30.  

Plans, parties, and promises are scheduled but there is something that has crept into our lives and it always has a way of peeking its head out when we would rather have another day to go on a picnic and we would rather spend our money on some more spring landscaping, but he nags and pries and won’t go away. 

Yep, headed to Duke. I really love my doctors but sometimes I kinda wish I never met them. I have two appointments.  One with an oncologist and one with an endocrinologist. And I also have a scan. Don’t forget the scan. Errr. I wish I could forget the scan. 

But I hope and I pray, we are in and we are out and this is the only post on the topic. I hope and I pray that I get a clean bill of health and there are no more appointments scheduled and no more concerns raised. But, however it goes, the God who made my body and knows me more inside and out, and loves me more than I love myself (and that is saying a lot) has gone before me and nothing will catch Him by surprise, so my mind is at peace. And He is going with me. 

Hosanna! ¬†An Emotional Entry

I know it is Easter time, but I am painting a picture of CHRISTMAS.  The season took it’s time, but the night air was whispering winter time. It was time to build a fire and cuddle indoors. The weekend after Thanksgiving holds the tradition of the Hendrys picking out a Christmas tree and decorating. The day was perfect. Picture perfect memories. The tree was chosen, the lights glowed, and we sat and gave a sigh of adoration of the tree and the promise of Christmas before us. Madison’s eyes had sparkled with joy and excitement the entire day and now was the great cresendo. And then she did something her Daddy and I did not expect.

Madison plopped down on the couch, crossed her arms, puckered out her bottom lip and complained, “Humph!  It is all going to go away!”

Her Daddy looked at me with terrified, shocked eyes, “What is the matter?”

I, surprisingly, smiled with understanding and replied, “She’s a girl.”

Madison understood, maybe for the first time, that nothing of this earth is forever.  Madison was conflicted with emotions of wonder and excitement, and celebration, and a realization of something sad. 

Although girls can sometimes be labeled as emotional roller coasters, emotions are to be shared by both genders. The human race is fickle, easily given to extremes in emotion. 

A few thousand years ago, a man walked into Jerusalem. The word had spread about his arrival. Some of them had recently seen him raise a man from the dead and they thought, “This is our King! He has come to be our ruler!”  

As was fitting, they rolled out the red carpet, spreading their coats and palm branches for the triumphant entry. They yelled out, “Hosanna!  Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!”

They praised and worshiped Jesus!  As should be done!  As he is deserved!  

But just a few days later, they let their emotions get the best of them. They were the same crowd yelling out, “Crucify him!”

Why?  They saw he was not going to lead an army. He was not going to be their earthly king.  They got mad. Jesus was not who they thought he was. 

HE WAS MORE!  He was not going to be a great King to rule Jesusalem, grow old and die. He came to set them, and us, free forever!  He had come to crush Satan and deliver us from the grips of Hell!  He was MORE than they could have possibly imagined!  

As mirrored by my daughter, sometimes my emotions get the better of me. But next time I am pouting about some earthly condition, I want to think on a grander scale. Today, while I worship Jesus on Palm Sunday, I want to look ahead to the purpose Jesus came to accomplish. 

Jesus is King not just of earth, but also of Heaven!  He is not only King now, but he is King of eternity.  

And, like the emotional crowd, sometimes when things take a bitter turn and it looks like defeat (the cross had to apper to be a crushing defeat!) I want to get ready and learn from experience that SOMETHING EVEN BETTER THAN I THOUGHT IS ABOUT TO HAPPEN!

Love Does

“I used to want to fix people, but now I just want to be with them.

I used to think I had to act a certain way to follow God, but now I know God doesn’t want us to be typical.

I used to be afraid of failing at something that really mattered to me, but now I’m more afraid of succeeding at things that don’t matter.

I used to think God guided us by opening and closing doors, but now I know sometimes God wants us to kick some doors down.

I used to think the best teachers wore tweed jackets and smoked pipes, but now I know they flip over and leak.

I used to think God wouldn’t talk to me, but now I know I’m just selective with what I chose to hear.

I used to think I needed to pick sides, but now I know it’s better to pick a fight.”  

Bob Goff, the author of Love Does.  This guy is insane!  He lives this life of giving and doing and saying things that are completely radical!  AND I WANT TO BE JUST LIKE HIM!

This is the book that I carry with me and read a sentence at red lights.  This book is the reason that I did not vacuum yesterday.  It is the reason that I was up a little too late.  And the reason I will be different from now on.  Above are a few of the chapter titles.  When the first chapter started, I was laughing out loud.  When the first chapter ended, I was crying.

I have a new aspiration in life.  I don’t want to just say I love people, I want to do it.  Love does.

Satan’s Greatest Lie is That Sin Keeps Christians From God

What is the barrier between us and anything of value?  THE PRICE. I see an expensive, designer made, sparkley, super hot shirt hanging in the mall, what keeps it from being mine?  PAYING THE PRICE.  My girl drools over the newest Build A Bear addition, why can’t she just walk away with it?  THE PRICE MUST BE PAID. A brand new house stands on a ten acre lot, upgrades throughout, marble entry, fountain into the pool, detached five car garage. Sitting there waiting, just waiting for someone to move in and make it a home. Everyone wants it, everyone loves it. What will it take?  PAYING THE PRICE. 

One beautiful summer day, I changed my girl into her swim suit, packed some essentials and we headed to a local water spot. The city designed a long flight of stairs in the middle of the city with water flowing over them. On a hot day in July, hundreds of children gather and splash and play. Slip on sunglasses, lather sunscreen, playing commences. After the initial energy is used up, I spread a towel for Madison to sit beside me. I pull out two lunches and we have a little picnic. And then for the grand finale, a Tootsie Pop appears. Shouts of glee and happiness follow. This is her version of the perfect moment. The lollipop is popped into her mouth. But then, all of the sudden, from the throng of children, a face appears.  “I want a sucker.”  The voice demands.  I understand childhood plees and respond, “Oh sorry sweetheart. That is the only one.”  I am a bit shocked with the tantrum and stamped feet that march away complaining. Now, without going too far with my imperfect analogy, there are two things that I want to point out. One, the treat belonged to this certain child because she was my child. I did not scan the audience for the best behaved child. I did not look for the hungriest child. I handed it to MY child. I had prepared that surprise in advance for MY child. Secondly, the Bible tells us to be like children. CHILDREN ACCEPT. When Madison saw me pull out that tootsie pop, it was her’s. She did not say, “Mom, let me first earn this.  Watch me be kind to all the children here and then you can give it to me.”  She did not say, “Wait. I can pay for this. Let’s go home and get the money out of my piggy bank.”  NO!  She took it and enjoyed it as a gift.  

Now. I love my girl. I love my daughter no matter what. Why do I love her?  Because she is mine!  She can make perfect grades, be a sweet friend, give her all in sports, and sleep in on Saturdays and I will love her. She can struggle and flop out of school, be selfish, unkind, lack ambition, wake me up at 4 am, and spill my coffee and SHE WILL STILL BE MY DAUGHTER AND I WILL STILL LOVE HER!

THE PRICE IS PAID!  Christians, we are God’s children. If we sin, it hurts us in the here and now but as far as God is concerned, IT IS IRRELEVANT TO HIS LOVE FOR US AND HIS FATHERHOOD. WE ARE HIS CHILDREN. NO SIN CAN SEPARATE US FROM THE LOVE OF OUR FATHER!

The world knows “Christians” by people who don’t cuss, don’t drink, does not wear certain clothes, and judges everyone else who does. 

NO!  Believers in Christ screw up just as much as everyone else!  THE AMOUNT OF SINNING IS IRRELEVANT TO BEING A CHILD OF GOD!  Can I say that again so the non-believers will say, “Say what?!” And so that the believers can breathe a sigh of relief, THE AMOUNT OF SINNING IS IRRELEVANT TO BEING A CHILD OF GOD. The only difference in a Christian is that they realize they sin and that they need Jesus. In fact, Christians can be the biggest sinners there are!  Look at the people that followed Jesus!  They were sinners, big ones, like prostitutes and swindlers!  

Christian, THE PRICE IS PAID!  YOU ARE FREE!  THE DEBT IS PAID!  THE TOOTSIE POP IS YOURS!  All you have to do is ENJOY it!

The Promises of Nature

I have a god, the God, that I trust and know and believe. But there is a god whispered in my ear, that I am told to believe. Who is this god?  It is ME. 

Builders, great architects of their time, the Egyptians built the temples that are still marveled today. The great wonders of the world. But where are these builders?  Where are they?  Buried within.  All the attempts to preserve their bodies and where are they to be found?  Buried in the sand. 

He stood and proclaimed, “God is dead!”  The world was awakened. Sexual revival, nonconformity, and selfishness praised. With pride and happiness they revolted. With openness and desires they grabbed and pulled in others to follow.  Where are these revivalists?  Where are these that insisted on the death of God?  They have aged, they have fallen. You find them in the grave.

People accomplish great things. They help and build and dance. Legs run faster than ever before. Great minds compose and soothe. Marriage and reproduction. Oil struck, land discovered, and new steel construction. Applause is given and the night is over. As the good and the bad all pass away. Nature promises one more day. 

The answer is not me. The answer is not you. The world that God created reminds us of that day after day. With this world we see and live and breathe, we are left with two options:  There is nothing and we die and are no more. OR There is everything, there is God, and a purpose to live for. 

I Want to be Uncomfortable

My family recently visited a new church. The building was beautiful. The people were kind. I admired the diversity in ages, apparent class, and race. I liked what I saw. Huge modern monitors hung everywhere, the newest technology surrounded us. Organization. There was a secure check in system for the children and an apparent wonderful program for my daughter’s age already in process. 

Then the music started. Talented vocalist raised their voices.  But then the leaders on stage were moving a little too much. 

Out of the crowd, I saw a couple hands raise. I shifted in my seat. 

I heard an “Amen” yelled out and I bit my lip. 

The preacher stepped forward and began his sermon. I got lost in the words for a while and then I noticed a few people wiping away tears. It was a little uncomfortable for me. 

And then I realized something. CHURCH SHOULD NOT BE COMFORTABLE!

If I believe this, if I really believe this, church should get a little out of hand sometimes. 

If someone is hearing for the first time that they are forgiven of their tormenting sins, I should hear an “Amen.”  

If I am really praising the King of Kings and Lord of Lords then I should expect some movement during the worship.

Now, I am not getting into a debate about styles, there are many factors for picking a church, the most important being whether or not the Bible is taught and followed, and I want to know it is REAL!  But church is more than preference and style. 

I want genuine tears wiped away, I want praise that is not for show, and sinners repenting and loving JESUS. 

But I want to be rubbed the wrong way. I want my life to change. I want to hear God’s word and be convicted of sin in my life. I want to cry when I see a need and I want to help someone!  I want to not be able to contain the praise for the God of my life that is swelling up in my heart!

God Almighty has searched me and knows me!  The One who made the skies loves me and has a plan for my life for me to prosper!  The Heavenly Lord of Hosts knit me together in my mother’s womb and he holds my future!  Can I get an AMEN?!