Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Isn't it Nostalgic???

Okay, to start off, this blog will be a lot like my personality: pretty much all or nothing! I hate that I'm like that, but it is the way God made me. I've stopped trying to fight it; instead, I'm trying to make my personality and tendencies work for me and my family. But how this relates to the blog...you'll probably see a pattern that goes something like this: no entries, 3 entries in 1 day, no entries, 2 entries in a few days. Oh well, so I may be not updating in the exact present, but I'm going to do the best I can!

Last week was awesome - I got to be a counselor at El Porvenir, the camp our church has used for years and years. I actually went there as a kid, and the last time I went there was 1996 for a young adult retreat.

What made this trip special was it was what we call 'First Chance Camp' or 3rd Grade camp. Camryn's first time at camp!! It was so fun to experience the place with her and to see the old dining hall and old cabins we used to stay in as kids. We went on a hike to Bear's Cave - the short hike at El Porvenir. The kids did great! I was so proud of Camryn. When we started out, I told her, jokingly, that I didn't want to hear any griping! But I really enjoyed hiking with her - she was awesome! I really just enjoyed her, period. She obviously appreciated me being there, and she told me while we were waiting for the next activity, "Mom, I don't want you to ever change. I don't mean how you look, I mean how you act and how fun you are." I thought that was way cool, and it was a definite reminder of what is really important to me in my life!

The theme for the camp was TRANSFORMERS: Do not conform any longer to the patterns of this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind - Romans 12: 2. What a good reminder for all of us. It seems like more times than not, I am faced with a decision of whether I'm going to conform to the world or transform into what God would have me do. Since December of 2007 I have definitely seen a pattern of things happen in our lives where I have been called to stand up for what was right - not always the easiest thing to do! I have lost a lot of sleep, a few friends, and sadly, I got a bit transfixed, at times, on my circumstances instead of focusing my eyes on things above. Isn't it crazy how we tend to do that? Great mistakes are made when we choose to idolize our circumstance (selfish priorities) instead of keeping our focus. Isn't it crazy that we can know full well a cure for an ailment, but we choose to waller in the mud instead? One thing I want to ask God when I get Home is, "Why is it that very often, human nature was in direct paradox compared to what we should do?" His answer would probably have something to do with the fact that as we learn to use self-control and not indulge our fleshly desires and selfish pursuits, we become more of what He needs us to be. Gosh, I hate it when I can easily rationalize why life isn't all down hill! Just imagine if it was - would we ever take the harder, unsure road? Would we always expect things to come easily? Would we ever need God to pull us up a steep slope? I think I know myself well enough to know what I'd do - I'd waller in the ease of life! And worse, I'd probably think that my good fortune was a direct result of something I did - I'm just lucky or really good! So there is your little lesson about why we must all go through hard times with hard decisions, mostly uphill, just in case you were wondering!

I'll post some pictures of El Porvenir soon - we had to take a disposable camera, so I will have to scan them.

Thank you, Camryn, for being an awesome girl who doesn't CONFORM to this world very often. I see in you such a sweet spirit! And I, too, hope you never change!!!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

The Perfect Combination

My little boy...there is not a more feisty, yet thoughtful little 5 year old boy! Just when you think he's the most rambunctious, snips and snails little creation you could imagine, you get to see this side of him: caring, hilarious, gentle, thoughtful, intelligent. I remember his teachers at school his 4 year old year telling me a story about Bryson that really represents that side of him. He was 4, and there was a special needs boy in his class for the summer. This boy was older than the other kids, but he was put in Bryson's class. His teachers described the boy as sweet, but quite a handful. They said that most of the kids in the class were scared of him and left him out. They told me that, without being asked to, Bryson took the initiative to befriend this boy. They all picked a friend to hold hands with when they were in line. Bryson began to pick Nathan. They told me that what struck them was that Bryson didn't hesitate while the other children seemed scared. They told me that story on the last day in their classroom - it really made me appreciate this little guy and the person he was becoming. Now, on the flip-side, you've got to understand that these very same teachers would tell you, also, that Bryson could most definitely be a tooter! He and another boy in that class really fed off of each other. Many a time did I pick Bryson up and see that 'I have something to tell you' look on his face. Before the teacher could even tell me what had happened, he was telling me, and we were talking about his poor choice and what he could do better next time. I've always had him apologize to his teacher right there, and of course, there were those darn consequences - grounding from a video game for the day or from the tv.

I learned early last year that Bryson and Camryn are different creatures! With Camryn, I always found myself asking this question after picking her up from school: "Was everyone a good friend to you today?" She was laid-back and a pleaser. She tended to give other kids their way just to keep from rocking the boat, and I tried to gently encourage her that she was precious, too, and deserved to be treated well by her friends. Foolishly, I just assumed the same to be true of Bryson, and I would ask him that question. In the spring of 2007, I was teaching at WTAMU, and I had some friends watch Bryson on Friday mornings and take him to gymnastics with them. On a watch day at gymnastics, I found out that I had misread my darling son. Instead of asking him how others had treated him that day, I realized that I needed to work on reminding Bryson, beforehand, ways to keep his self-control and behave! Although all of Bryson's misbehaving is typical little boy stuff - talking when the teacher is talking, being crazy with a friend, we always reiterate to him that he must behave and respect his teachers. So, I ended up conceding to his teacher this year that I pretty much expected him to be a rowdy boy, but that I demanded that once he was corrected, he mind and straighten up. And we always let him and his teachers know that we would stand behind punishments if he didn't. I am a total advocate for my children. However, I have seen too many parents blindly advocate for their children to a detriment to the kids.

I am proud of my boy - boyish, rowdy, crazy, amazing, truthful, caring, intuitive. In all of his antics at school, I am the most proud of this: Bryson has never hurt one person. Bryson has never told a lie. Bryson never got on 'red' (color behavior chart of green - good, yellow - warning, red - big trouble). I can't wait to see the man he becomes! If he can keep up this kind of integrity and fun all mixed up together, I know he will be amazing!

After enjoying a day at the spa recently that my sweet mother-in-law won and gave to me, I had recounted to my family all of the treatments: full massage on a heated bed under furry covers, lunch with wine, pedicure, manicure, facial - oh, it was lovely!! Well, Bryson got the idea that he would give me the treatment 'because you're such a good Mommy.' He tells me that when Camryn and I get back from camp next week, he's going to give me a 'pan-ee-cure' and put me on a heating pad and fix my face with 'rack-a-mole' and cucumbers on my eyes! I LOVE THIS BOY!!! I pray for his wife already, and I know that he'll make an awesome husband for her!!

My friend, Tracy, sent me an email today that was so cute. Her daughter, Emma and Bryson are the same age. The Stewarts moved to Houston 2 years ago, and the kids haven't seen each other since, but spent tons of time together practically from birth until they moved (yes, we're still a little angry at them!!:)) After another little boy was telling Emma that she was his girlfriend and that they would get married, Emma said, "I can't be your girlfriend, and I already know who I'm going to marry - it's Bryson!!" Tracy and I both agree that would be okay with us!!And because he is so smart (I'm allowed to brag on my own blog, right?) and he was truly saying colors of the balloons on the ceiling of Wal-Mart at the ripe ol' age of 21 months, I do let him say these words any old way he wants to. I know that all too soon, he'll realize his mistake and correct it. I'll enjoy it while it lasts!

Discernment...it's a Gift

Okay one discovery I've been wanting to acknowledge is this: during our VBS a couple of weeks ago, I learned something. Don't you love that? I always learn something when I'm the teacher! Our VBS focused on the fact that God loves us and has a plan for each and every one of us. I'm passionate about teaching kids that. I think it's our job to take what God has given each child and bring it out in a way glorifying to Him. God doesn't make accidents, and He made each of us exactly the way He needed us to fulfill some purpose for the Kingdom. Anyhow, one day, we were learning about our own unique gifts and talents from God, and I finally put a name to a gift that I've known I've had for a long time: I have the gift of discernment!

It makes so much sense to me - I don't know why it took me so long to actually identify it. Like I said, I 've always sensed that ability. What sense does it make that we, as Christians, don't use all that we have at our fingertips? My husband always tells me to use the right tool for the job. I think I've used my gift, but not to it's available capacity. Now that I'm acknowledging it and praising God for it, I'm excited to see how I can use it. What about you? What kinds of gifts and talents has God given you? Are you using them to please Him?

What to say...

Writer's block already?? There is a certain pressure when you're writing things that everyone will see. You worry if your spelling and grammar are correct, you worry if your writing is boring, you worry if anyone will ever read what you have written!

I'll share a secret with you - I will soon have a Master's Degree in English (done with all course work, just completing my thesis). I have written my fair share - I love to write, almost to a fault. As I begin my blog, I'm still having writer's block! Maybe my expertise/ experience is what's blocking me?? Maybe I've put some subconscious expectations on myself !?!

I guess I need to go back to the basics and remember two things I've told my students over and over - 1) If you want to be a better writer/ reader, you need to write and read more! 2) Recognize your audience and decide your purpose for writing. Sounds like good advice, huh? We'll see if I can take it. Number 1 shouldn't be hard - I'm not in the habit of reading many blogs, but one of my favorite genres happens to be Life Writing, so that shouldn't be hard. Number 2, I'm good with because my purpose of writing is to document the happenings in our lives. I've never regretted even the smallest, seemingly insignificant detail I've captured about my kids. It's always fun to visit those memories. And let's face it, no matter how good our memories are, time has a way of dulling reality. So when you write things down, it helps preserve those memories. And that, exactly, is my purpose for writing!