Wednesday, February 18, 2009

A Change in Plans

Yesterday our first born turned 14 years old. I just can't believe it. The years have flown by and it seems like only yesterday I was carrying him around in one of those Baby Bjorn pouches. I look at him now and think to myself "precious time is running out". I'm well aware of the fact that he has four more years of school and then he's off to college. We have a great relationship and I know we will always be close but things will be different once he's no longer living at home.

Brody had been talking about his birthday for weeks while eyeing up the latest electronic gadget and telling my husband and I how life would be so much easier if only he had one of "these" special items. He was willing to fore go any get together with friends or a party but loved the idea of dinner at his favorite restaurant with "just family" which means the four of us.

I had made my own plans and also wanted to bring a cake to school so he could celebrate with friends. Turning 14 is a big deal and I wanted it to be a day to remember. I decided this should be a complete surprise so I kept my plans quiet. Brody picked Carrabas Italian Restaurant as the place to celebrate his birthday dinner. Keith and I agreed to give him money which would go towards that fancy gadget he wanted. He would have to come up with the rest though. Those new tech gadgets are so expensive!

Everything was set and in place. All we had to do was wait for the day to arrive and start celebrating. Well, the day came but our plans didn't. Brody woke up with a fever, major head congestion and a horrible cough. Instead of cake with friends, he would be in bed all day digesting Advil and cold medicine. Instead of Carrabas Italian Restaurant for dinner, he would have cereal instead because it was the only thing that soothed his throat. We did present him with his present (yes, that fancy gadget he so desperately wanted) with an invoice for the remaining amount that he owed us to make up the difference.

I felt SO bad for him. My heart ached. To be sick on your 14th birthday - now that's just wrong. I thought about how I would have reacted at that age and based on my personal history, I know I would have thrown a holy fit! What amazed me is that Brody didn't mind at all. He didn't whine, complain or make any comments that would suggest he felt sorry for himself. I was so amazed at how well he was handling this change in plans. I do think he was thrilled about laying around the house in his p.j.'s all day without his mom giving him a list of things he needed to do. I can be bossy at times :)

When I told him how sorry I was because of the way things turned out on his birthday he said "It's o.k. mom, everything is fine. I'm just glad I got to spend the day with you and dad."

Wow! God used my son once again to teach me a very valuable lesson. I thought the cake, presents, celebrating with friends and special dinner was the ingredients to make Brody's 14th birthday a success. However, he was completely content with just being with us. My focus was on things and activity. His focus was on relationship.

This morning as I was reflecting on Brody's comment yesterday, the Lord whispered in my heart, "That's what is important to me... a relationship." God reminded me that it's not about the activity I try to generate in celebration of him. It's not even the acts of service that are most important. His focus is on relationship.

It is only through spending time with someone that you actually get to know them better. I want to know God better. I want to seek him with all of my heart, mind, and soul. I want to see him more, hear his voice when he speaks to me and experience him in common and uncommon situations throughout my day. My focus is on relationship.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Physcial or Spiritual

Well, yesterday I had my long awaited physical with my doctor. I don't look forward to physicals but think they are a vital component of staying healthy, especially as I get older. OUCH! Besides, Renee Swope insisted!!!

About two weeks ago, Renee and I were at a women's event in Sumter, S.C. and I woke up in the middle of the night with a racing heartbeat. It was REALLY weird and I thought to myself "I think my heart is just gonna jump out of my chest, right here and right now!" I was hoping it would subside but after several minutes, I contemplated whether or not to wake Renee up. After all, this may not have a happy ending.

Now, Renee was scheduled to speak 3 one hour sessions the next day. We had been driving all afternoon, went straight to the church for sound checks and got to bed really late. Plus, Renee is a super light sleeper so the idea of waking her up shortly after midnight made my heart race even faster. What if she couldn't get back to sleep and was exhausted the next morning? I didn't want anything to come between her and a rest-filled night. However, an overwhelming thought kept pounding in my head which was "wake up Renee and have her lay hands on you, NOW!" So I did exactly that.

She was so groggy yet so graceful as she prayed for me. After a couple of minutes an overwhelming peace came upon me and my heart settled down. We talked about it the next morning and felt like it was definitely spiritual warfare but she said "promise me that you're going to make an appointment with your doctor when you get home". So I did.

My doctor was incredibly nice. She's about my age so we hit it off right away. First, we talked details as to why I was there. As I shared my incident, she said "Leah, that is a classic panic attack". What? A panic attack? Actually, I had had panic attacks years ago (I'll save that for another post) but they felt completely different than this.

As we talked some more, our conversation went from physical to spiritual. I started sharing with her about my faith in God. She then shared with me a story about one of her patients who was a woman in her 90's. The question was asked to this 90 year old "What is your secret to a long life?" The woman responded and said "every night when I go to bed, I lay my head on my pillow and give all my problems to God".

We talked about casting our cares upon the Lord because he cares for us, and if he provides for the birds of the air and the flowers of the fields, He will most certainly provide for us. What started out to be a routine appointment turned into a God appointment. I no longer felt like she was the doctor and I was the patient but that we were two Christian women connecting on a common love for the Lord. Is was so neat!

I love when God takes my ordinary daily assignments and turns them into extraordinary divine assignments. I have a whole new appreciation for my doctor now. She's not only someone I can talk to about my physical well being but someone I can share my faith with too.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Encourage One Another

My sister recently gave me a book of inspirational quotes that I keep on my nightstand. I'd love to tell you that I read a quote each morning to inspire and prepare my heart for that day but quite frankly, I'd be lying.

The truth is that days go by and I forget to read my inspiration quotes. In fact, just last week, the only time I picked up this special book from my sister was to dust around it.

This morning was different though. It was as if the book was calling for my attention. As I read the quote, I just smiled. It wasn't the book that was calling me, it was God.

The quote was by Gary Smalley and John Trent.

"Take time today, if only for a moment, to lovingly encourage each one in your family."

Boy, did this sound familiar.

Just last night at dinner, my husband and I were sharing with our two boys the importance of speaking kind words to one another. They had gotten in a fight earlier that day and had started calling each other names. We needed to take action right away. We talked about how God wants us to encourage one another through our words and actions. That calling each other names is dishonoring to Him and those we love. That hurtful words can leave a lasting impression on our hearts that if left untreated, can fester into deep personal wounds. Then we prayed about it and the boys apologized to one another.

While I was cleaning up the dinner plates, God whispered to my heart "that goes for you too". He reminded me of something I had said to my husband right before dinner that wasn't very encouraging. Words that were dishonoring and hurtful. Words that could leave a deep personal wound if left untreated. How could I possibly ask my children to encourage one another through their words and actions but not hold myself to the same standard?

I immediately went to Keith and apologized. I replaced those harsh words from early that day with words of encouragement and love. I reconfirmed what a great husband and father his is. As always, Keith was quick to forgive. So was God.

Have you taken time today, if only for a moment, to lovingly encourage each one in your family? If not, I'd highly recommend it. I know from experience that it will produce wonderful blessings to everyone in your family.