Thunder

The Lord has given this land to usjunior
No need to fuss, He knows what He’s doing
We know that He will take care of us
If we will follow Him

God’s way is the best way
Now that I know He loves me so

His way is the best way
And that’s the way for me!

–Junior Asparagus from Veggie Tales

Boy, do I love a good summer storm. They’re so great, with the warm, heavy-but-soft rain and rumbling thunder. They’re best super early in the morning, like right when my alarm goes off. The sleepy sound of the water hitting the deck outside my bedroom window is the perfect excuse to skip the soggy trip to the gym and snuggle back up under the covers instead.

BLISS.

Tonight we had a great storm at my house right before the kids went to bed. Bedtime is the 2nd-best time for a summer storm because I get to fall asleep to the sounds without the guilt of workout-neglect… That is, if the storm comes at MY bedtime. The kids’ bedtime is 2-4 hours earlier, and it mostly results in frightened children. Apparently love of storms is a learned gift, one which I fully intend to impart to my children. This is a problem if I have lots of laundry to catch up on or need to talk to my husband (anyone with small kids knows none of that happens during children’s waking hours) or whatever. However, on nights when I remember that my kids are more important than clean clothes (hey, these in the hamper don’t smell THAT bad…), frightened children mean extra snuggles and a great opportunity to teach my babies the most important lesson they’ll ever learn: entrusting their lives to a loving God.

Tonight my 6-year-old wanted me to lay with her because the thunder was too loud. I reminded her of the story we often tell when weather is bad: Jesus calming the storm.

“As evening came, Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Let’s cross to the other side of the lake.’ So they took Jesus in the boat and started out… But soon a fierce storm came up. High waves were breaking into the boat, and it began to fill with water. Jesus was sleeping at the back of the boat with his head on a cushion. The disciples woke him up, shouting, ‘Teacher, don’t you care that we’re going to drown?’ When Jesus woke up, he rebuked the wind and said to the waves, ‘Silence! Be still!’ Suddenly the wind stopped, and there was a great calm.”
Mark 4:35-39

My voice inflection grew more and more animated as I recounted the story, wanting her to grasp both the severity of the storm and the greatness of the miracle. At the end, I said, “Wow, isn’t that AMAZING?!” She sighed softly and said, “Well I wish he would do that now.”

And then the Word started preaching to me. I love when that happens.

“Sometimes the earth needs storms,” I told her. She wondered why in the world we need storms, and I explained how rain is good for the ecosystem and that we need rain to survive. “But why does it have to THUNDER?” she asked.

You know, that’s a really good question!!

Trying to be confident-reassuring-mommy-with-all-the-answers, I went into a very, very basic (because that’s all I know) explanation of atmospheric pressure changes making storms happen, and how Ben Franklin invented the electricity we use every day after his experiment with lightning. But the truth is, I don’t know why watering the earth has to come with scary sounds. Any scientist friends want to weigh in??

Allow me to get all metaphorical now… Ultimately, maybe God wants us to learn something from the thunder. The loud noises sound big and frightening, but it makes us think about how strong God is to be in control of it. In the good ol’ King James Version of Mark 4, Jesus says, “Peace, be still.” No exclamation points, just peace. In that moment, Jesus spoke to the storm, but he also was speaking to the disciples. I hate when a really awesome nugget gets used so much it becomes cliché, but that doesn’t detract from its truth: Sometimes God calms the storm, and sometimes he calms the child.

My little girl and I turned around and looked at a little notecard that is Scotch-taped on her headboard. (I am no Pinterest mom.) It reads:

“When I am afraid, I will put my trust in you.” Psalm 56:3

Then I reminded her of another phrase that is repeated over and over in scripture:

“Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9 (and dozens of similar passages… Google it)

After reciting these verses a few times, we prayed that God would help her to trust him, because we know he always takes care of us. If our earth needs this storm, we will rely on him to protect us and teach us his goodness while we wait it out.

I’m so thankful for the gift of parenting, because with all its challenges, teaching my children the Word of God teaches me as much as it does them. Right now, I am in the middle of a storm. It’s not raining outside, but I feel like the wind and waves in my heart are so strong and so high I can barely see. Maybe you’re there too. Can I just tell you that you are not alone? YOU ARE NOT ALONE. You don’t have to be afraid, because the Lord is with you.

Yes, even you. Your past or present choices or circumstances do not exclude you from his love and care. Wherever you are, whatever you are going through, God is right there with you. And maybe you don’t understand why you need this storm, or why it has to come with all this dadgum thunder.

SERIOUSLY, THOUGH, GOD, WHAT IS UP WITH ALL THE THUNDER?!?!

Okay, I don’t have it all figured out. Loving the gentle reminders from scripture and Veggie Tales (you are welcome for getting that song stuck in your head), but I definitely don’t have all the answers. I don’t know why you need the thunder, and I certainly don’t know why I need it. But I have no doubt that God’s way is the best way, and that’s the way for me.

 

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Fearless

It’s Transformation Tuesday, folks. Actually, I’ve been trying to post every Tuesday, but I’m too lazy to write something for you today. Therefore I will take advantage of this pop-culture cliché by sharing this little diddy I wrote a few months ago. Enjoy!

Today, I was fearless.

Recently my parents bought a Flying Turtle, which is the name you never knew for that coveted toy from elementary school gym in which you sit with your knees up and turn the handles side to side to fly across the gym floor way faster than was probably safe for elementary school children.

You know, this bad boy.

You know, this bad boy.

My parents bought the Turtle for their grandkids to ride in the basement. It is a huge hit with my kids, but it is even more popular among my brothers and me, who remember loving the toy just as much as you probably did as a child. Your memory of its awesomeness overshadows the memories of all the times you slammed into the gym wall or lost your best friend for a week after fighting over the last one in class.

This afternoon, my whole family got together to enjoy some beautiful spring weather. The kids pulled out the Flying Turtle to play on my parents’ long country driveway. Unfortunately, we quickly realized the slight grade of the drive feels much more significant on wheels, and we deemed the toy unsafe for the kids. However, my younger brother – the lifetime athlete and daredevil – managed to ride all the way down the driveway just to prove it could be done.

Now, 3 years ago, I would have laughed, maybe cheered for my brother, but it would have ended there. Actually, 3 years ago, my body weight exceeded the limit to even sit on the Flying Turtle. But I am not living the same life I did back then. I have lost nearly 50 lbs., but more importantly, I have gained my life. These days, when others are enjoying that last hour of sleep, I am at the gym. These days, when my kids are running in the yard, I am chasing them. These days, when my brother flaunts adventure on a nostalgic children’s toy, I jump right on after him and show that I can do it too.

Here I am on the Flying Turtle, mere moments before an epic wipe out.

Here I am on the Flying Turtle, mere moments before an epic wipe out.

As I write this, I am sitting on an ice pack, wishing I had an extra one for my arm. Yes, I wiped out. Badly. While I do finally weigh less than my brother, I did not magically develop his coordination or skill for maneuvering a Flying Turtle. Even so, I don’t regret my little joy ride of doom. All the scrapes, bruises, and gauze I’ll be sporting for the next couple of weeks serve to remind me that I DID IT. Ya see, a few years ago, I would have been scared to death to get on that toy, much less ride it 25 mph down my parents’ driveway. Honestly, I couldn’t have even pulled my knees close enough to my chest to sit on the thing in the first place, but I really would have been too afraid to try.

Today, I am bloody and sore, but I am not afraid. I don’t mind a few battle scars and a funny story to remind myself from whence I have come. Health and fitness are not about the pounds that you lose; it’s all about the life that you gain. And this one is fearless.

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Before and After!

Cake Un-pops

So, I was going to post a recipe this week. I was really excited Tuesday to make this delicious vanilla cake then post about how awesome and domestic I am. Then this happened:

It really was delicious...

It really was delicious…

Yeeeeeaaaahhh so much for that Pinterest-perfect moment. In an effort to redeem myself, I did make the marshmallow frosting (eh… I actually prefer Jet-Puffed) and turn them into stick-less cake pops. Cake un-pops, if you will. (Come on, I’ve got a theme going here.) Unfortunately, it was already nap time, so I couldn’t run to the store for chocolate or anything to dip them in. Cue hidden kids’ holiday candy stash.

I pulled all the Hershey’s I could find, and given that a whole cake actually makes a LOT of cake pops, I couldn’t afford to be stingy on what chocolate I used. I figured most of it would be from Easter – that wasn’t that long ago, was it? – but actually about half was from Christmas and at least one from Halloween. WHOOPS!

Hey, did you know super old chocolate tastes kinda minty? Weird, right? Anyway, they turned out fine and minty, and my birthday-ed friend is none the wiser. Until he reads this. Hm. Sorry, Dakota!

Here’s what left of my cake un-pops, perfectly plated on Dixie’s finest china, because I’m so fancy:

Mmmm... minty

Mmmm… minty

Cake fail aside, these did taste pretty good, and my neighbor actually called me “MacGyver” for my cake un-pops. That’s gotta be a win at the end of the day. What’s your favorite kitchen fail story?

Bedtime

“Our children will also serve him.
Future generations will hear about the wonders of the Lord.
His righteous acts will be told to those not yet born.
They will hear about everything he has done.”
Psalm 22:30-31

Bedtime.

It’s a beautiful thing. It’s even more beautiful when you are a parent. Because as a parent of small children, “bedtime” does not mean the time you go to bed. Oh no, it’s even better than that. “Bedtime” is when the KIDS go to bed, which means you can finally make a coherent thought and speak an uninterrupted sentence to your spouse. It is glorious beyond compare.

I hear so many parents share about how much they love bedtime because it gives them sweet snuggle time with their little ones in those precious before-sleep moments. They delight in the routine of bath, stories, snuggles, toddler prayers (which, by the way, are hilarious), and goodnight kisses. That’s real sweet and all, but I actually dread bedtime because, at our house, it lasts 2+ hours. It actually goes a lot like The Honest Toddler suggests. We start the routine at 7:00 pm, and it is not uncommon for someone to still be awake way past 10. For heaven’s sake, I don’t know why, but if anything about child-rearing is going to make me go insane, it may very well be bedtime.

No, potty training. It would definitely be potty training. But bedtime comes in 2nd.

As my kids have gotten older, we have developed some… “loose habits,” I’ll say, because we certainly don’t do anything every night, but there are a few repeat occurrences that have happened often enough that no one is surprised when they happen. One is my children begging for me to tickle their backs, and when this happens, my 2-year-old always asks me to sing “the pretty song.”

The song is actually by Third Day, taken from Psalm 36:

Your love, oh Lord, reaches to the heavens
Your faithfulness stretches to the sky
Your righteousness is like the mighty mountain
Your justice flows like the ocean tide
And I will lift my voice to worship You, my King
And I will find my strength in the shadow of Your wing

This is my favorite song to sing to my kids, and I love that it’s my little man’s favorite, because it is pulled directly from scripture, almost word-for-word. If there is anything I absolutely love about parenting, it is the opportunity to share with them the truth of who God is. Now, just because I love it doesn’t mean I’m super awesome at it all the time. (See my last post for more on that.) But I know in my life, resting on the truth of God’s Word is the greatest source of strength, peace, comfort, and joy in all the world, and it is therefore the best gift I can ever give my children.

Today I got some crappy news. No need to go into it here, but suffice it to say I have been in desperate need of strength, peace, comfort and joy. Thanks to my children – the tiny humans who both give me life and suck it right out of me – I have exactly what I need, because I know exactly who God is. If you need me, I’ll just be over here resting in the shadow of His wings. Ahhhh.

“For you are the fountain of life,
the light by which we see.
Pour out your unfailing love on those who love you;
give justice to those with honest hearts.”
Psalm 36:9-10