Thursday, September 3, 2009

Parenting Lessons - From Our Father Through The Vessel of Our Children

My lesson for this warm Thursday was, "Say "yes" as often as possible - God uses all opportunities to reveal himself through life's daily circumstances.

The day began as any other, I awakened my sleepy eyes too early for my liking, calls of "Mama" from the other room drew me to reality, and Drew's excited voice jumped to the euphony of classical music -- my day had begun.

We hurried through breakfast, packed lunches, and I sent oldest child ahead to dress and brush his teeth before school. When I arrived upstairs, I sighed and persuaded, "Drew. why are you wearing jeans to school? It is going to be hot and sweaty today, your not going to enjoy wearing pants." Believing I had won my argument I went into his drawer to find a pair of shorts to match his already worn shirt.

"But Mommy I want to wear jeans, their comfortable and I like them!"

I glanced at the clock, almost time to go, no time for Drew to argue with me. Then I heard a still small voice instantly whisper in my ear, "Why is it really that you don't want him to wear jeans to school?"

Since it was in the silence, I confessed to, No One in-particular, that "it was only the second day of school, little girls show up in cute little white dresses and boys in their new matching Gymboree outfits. I didn't want anyone to think I wasn't a good mother, or didn't have funds to buy my child nice clothes too." Then the Lord quietly reminds me that, "Preschool is for glue and scissors and dirt and sand and paint - there is no requirement for name brand clothing. Sigh, He is right. Why do I care what others think anyway, the way a 4 year old dresses shouldn't have any merit on what people think of him or me, its my child's character that I want people to notice - not name brand unstained clothes."

"I've got bigger issues like cultivating a heart of joy and obedience to work on, not what he wears to school" I quietly scold myself. "What better way to model love and joy than to let Drew pick out his own clothes and be excited for him that he can make independent decisions apart from me? Small Issue --No Big Deal."

I then think to myself, "I really need to relax and say "yes" more often - most issues are so small, why do I try and make them so big?" Alas, that 2 second conversation changed my heart and we were off to school -- in pants!

Fast forward to the afternoon pick up, I show up to the school and thought, "Way too many cars and people..." So I park in the newer section of the parking lot - far away from the endless rows of mini vans picking up their kids from their first week of school.

"The walk is long but the traffic is scarce!" I look over at the closer entrance, then I notice the Hearse in front. "So sad" I think to myself. "That is the third funeral this church has experienced just in the past month - at least that I know of, there were probably more."

I then remember Sally and her son who died mid July, then my mentor Johnnie and her blessed husband who died suddenly one August evening before bed. I take a minute to pray for them - "... how does one deal with that type of loss Lord, please comfort them and give them the stamina to make it through today..."

I confess aloud to my littlest one who is waiting patiently in his stroller, "We better get going." I glance at my watch, "I have time, I think I'll take the long way and avoid the sanctuary. I would hate to disturb the mourners with a loud stroller and a toddler babbling rhythms resembling The Entsy Weensy Spider."

I soon show my drivers license, pick up my energetic son, review all his talented art work pieces and fancy hand crafted hat. We then leave by way of the sanctuary, I say a prayer for the family, then explain to Drew that he needs to be quiet because there are people worshiping. He manages well until we get outside and he spies the Hearse.

"What is that giant black car mommy" Drew explodes in excitement.
"That is a very sad car, it carries the coffins and bodies of people who have died." I manage to get out before the endless questions insist.
"Is that how Grandpa Owl was taken to heaven." Drew questions matter of factually.

"Oh my, I really don't want to get into the whole conversation of cremation vs burial and our spirits being taken to heaven with my 4 year old, how do I get myself out of this one?" I think silently.

"No Drew, Grandpa Al didn't go away in a Hearse, remember we went to his funeral and he was placed in a little box, we have pictures I can show you when we get home?" Drew appeared to be satisfied with that statement because he was now on the hunt for where I had parked the car. He spied the car and informed me that he would wait in the grass while I put Baby Gabe into the car seat - a normal routine for our many pickups from preschool!

As I'm placing Gabe in the car seat I spy my child screaming and running across the sidewalk, he is intermittently and audible yelling, "ANTS....Mommy..... Help!" The cry gets my attention, it wasn't one of those "you'll be OK cries" it was a deep - petrified -helpless- cry of sheer fear.

Now being from Texas, all children, at least mine, freak out upon seeing one ant, but this cry, it didn't quite match the situation. So, I threw Gabe into the car, shut it, so he wouldn't escape and ran to find out what was so terrifying. It was then that I saw it - Drew's entire lower body covered in a sea of fire ants. I'd never seen so many on one person before -there were thousands! I did what any mother would do - react! The Lord must have given me direction because looking back on my response it was perfect for the situation. I unbuttoned Drew's jeans, pulled them straight down to his shoes inside out, then threw off his new Car tennis shoes which light up when you walk and ripped off the jeans with the ants nicely folded inside! The shirt I ripped over his head and he was bare clothed down to his underwear in the preschool parking lot for every mother and child to see. I think other parents though I had overreacted to an accidental clothe wetting or something because they all kept their horrified distance. I then proceeded to flick the last persisting ants off Drew's red scared body.

Drew then looks over at me and said with a smile, " Mommy, that was so fast, I'm so glad you saved me!" with all the fear gone from his voice. He then gave me a huge hug -- a stray ant biting my toe ruined the peaceful moment!

It was then that some parents realized the situation, offered towels and plastic bags for the clothes -- which reminds me, the ant stained clothes are still in my trunk, at last glance (about 5 hours ago) there were still hundreds of crawling devils dieing of heat stroke in my trunk. I need to go microwave then - at least that is what my husband said I needed to do -- microwave Drew's clothes in the bag. Gross, maybe he will do it when he gets home tonight!

As we were driving home and the adrenaline began to wear off, Drew quietly says, "Mommy, I'm so glad I wore pants today, otherwise those ants would have eaten my legs off!"

"Yes Drew, God loves you so much, He protected you from those nasty ants by making sure you wore pants today! I'm so grateful that God loves you even more than I do and that he knows just what we need when we need it."

We finished our drive home in thanksgiving to God for our safety and protection; in all Drew only had 12 ant bits over his body - but we both learned a priceless lesson about living for today, accepting God's plan, saying Yes more often, and enjoying all that God sends our way - good and bad.

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