Thursday, December 23, 2010

The Garage Door

For the first time in over a year, I parked in my driveway last night. And for the first time in several years, I entered my house through the garage. You see, our garage door opener has been broken for a long time now. It's one of those things that I took for granted when we had, missed for a while when it first broke, and then just "made do" without it. When I was tired of entering through the back door and getting mauled by the dogs, I started parking out in front of my house.

A working garage door, while an awesome convenience to have, has not been a priority for our family. So, when our sweet friend, who's business is garage doors, stopped by after a job in our neighborhood and insisted on looking at it, we were grateful. He worked on it for a while--all with spare parts he had in his truck, but, being parked in our driveway proved lucrative for him and he had 2 other jobs that came up. That was a few weeks ago. Yesterday, he had some time in the middle of the day and came over and finished the job. He even installed a keyless box for us--not that I've ever locked myself out of the house--hahahaha!

The garage door got me to thinking about the other things I think I need, but could really do without. There's a line in the movie "The Book of Eli" about humans not knowing what was really important until it was gone. How many times do I take clean, running water for granted? In fact, I often complain about the taste of it. How often do I wish we could eat out at a restaurant instead of being thankful we had enough food last night to have leftovers at home tonight? Don't get me wrong, I don't plan on giving up electricity or air conditioning any time soon, but I do hope that every time I push the garage door button, and it opens, I remember what a sweet gift it was from a friend, and am thankful that I live in a place where I am blessed with so many things I don't need.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Santa at the Royal House

Santa will be visiting our house this year. My girls (age 9 and 6) still believe, and until they ask me point-blank if I am Santa, I will continue pretending each year. I love it! I have heard all of the arguments on why, as Christians, we shouldn't make it about Santa, and some of them make good sense. I can totally understand why some families choose to take him out of the holiday--and I don't begrudge them that.

I found a quote that I just love: "There is nothing more beautiful than seeing the magic in the eyes of a child who believes." It is a fine balance when you celebrate Christmas with Santa. I don't want our family traditions to revolve around his visit. We talk about the reason we celebrate throughout the season. We read the Christmas Story (last year, on Christmas Eve, it was read off an iPhone). We have a couple of different nativity sets (I finally had to buy Caroline her own last year so she would leave mine alone--she LOVES to move them around and tell the story--she sometimes adds Barbies, Polly Pockets and Littlest Pet Shop creatures, but I think God understands that). We talk about giving to others.

I have been so proud this year watching my girls spend their own money to buy presents for the people they love. They "get" it--at least most days. Some years they make lists of what they want, others they don't. This year, Santa's gift will be a little bit more mild than last year (how do you top a trampoline???), but each gift will be hand-picked for each girl. They will continue to believe that Santa, a man who doesn't know them, loves them anyway.

They get that about Jesus. They know what he did for them and they fully embrace the gift of Life he's given. In this world, when they see so many people who don't live that out (especially in North Dallas where so many are so privleged), I'm okay with them believing that a stranger cares about them. In fact, I choose to believe that Kris Kringle was a Christian. If he wasn't, we, as Christians, have a lot to learn from him about giving away our faith in tangible ways.

So , Santa will, once again, make an appearance at the Royal house this year. He'll eat the gingerbread men cookies, leaving some crumbs, drink the milk, and his reindeers will gnaw on the carrots. My girls will wake up Christmas morning and I will get to see the beautiful magic in their eyes, as their belief is proven once again another year.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The world in my backyard

I am easily moved when I see a child in Rwanda who has lost her parents or a boy in Africa who has no shoes. I even get moved when I see kids enter my daughters' school with blankets wrapped around them because they don't have coats. One of my strengths is empathy and I cry at the drop of a hat.

So, imagine my surprise when I realized that one of my daughter's friends totally annoys me. She is truly a sweet girl and has a ton of self-confidence. She also reeks of cigarette smoke and is a bit rough around the edges. She is not timid, but is very vocal about all that she sees (and she sees a lot). She's smart and she is totally a leader. In fact, she is a lot like Hope would be if she lived in a house where we didn't know Jesus.

Why is it so much easier to care and pray for kids who live far, far away than for the little girl who lives around the corner?

Father, don't let me close my eyes to the people you have put before me. Keep me mindful that you love them as much as you love my girls.

Monday, December 13, 2010

A Grateful Heart?

As a mom, I have always wanted to make sure that I provide well for my children. There are the basics of that statement: that my girls have enough to eat, have a safe shelter, know they are loved, have clothes, etc that they need. But, for me, like most parents, I want to do more than the basics. I want to be able to take them out to dinner on a whim, buy them a toy they like, buy the cool jeans and not just the inexpensive ones, enroll them in sports and music, teach them about giving by allowing tthem to buy things (with my money)and donate them.

We, like many other families this year, are not in a position to do many of the "extras." Part of me feels like a failure because of that. I want to be able to take my 6 year old out and foot the bill while she shops for all the people she loves. Or even, allow her to earn the money to do that. But, that's just not really an option.

As we walked around the mall this weekend, I started feeling worse and worse. Not because my girls were asking for a bunch of stuff, but because I love to give gifts and am not able to do so this year. I live in fear that my girls will grow up resenting the fact that I was unable to allow them to have/do the things they wanted. Funny thing is they were more interested in the SPCA animals up for adoption than the latest clothes in Justice (although we did have to wander through there).

Hope had a birthday this week. As we were talking about what to get her, we were stumped. Brian and I finally agreed on a sleeping bag--something she asked for since she was having a slumber party. I wanted to do so much more. She did receive more from family: her Mimi and Papa got her a new comforter (that she absolutely loves), her Grandaddy got her a cool pair of black boots (that she has worn all day yesterday and is planning outfits around now), her aunt Tess got her some skinny jeans and tops (which also go with the boots) and her Granny sent her money which she used to buy curtains to match her new comforter). Needless to say, she received a LOT and everything she got was something she really wanted. Sounds pretty good, huh? So why do I still feel like I failed my child? Because I was unable to buy them for her myself.

Pretty crazy, huh? I can say all day long how I am thankful that God has chosen to bless her through others, but deep inside, I'm truly ungrateful for those incredible gifts. All because I was unable to buy them myself. I know it doesn't make sense--believe me, I am totally frustrated with myself over this. It makes me feel like God is blessing my children in spite of me. And that I am not enough for them. Which, are both true, but knock my ego down quite a bit. The way things have played out, I am not the hero. And that is the root of my issue--I want to be my girls' hero. I do love them more than I can express with words, but that is not the main reason I want to be their hero (which in itself is sad that it's not my main motivation). I want to be their hero so that I feel good about myself. Sounds pitiful, huh?

I don't think I'm the only mom who has ever felt this, but I've never heard anyone else express it. Maybe because I am surrounded by people who are able to give to their children. Maybe because they are scared to admit their fears like I have been. Maybe because they are truly grateful and don't have these feelings.

What I am deperately holding onto today is the fact that God loves my girls more than I do and He loves me madly. He has chosen to bless my daughter, as well as provide a way for me to not feel guilty about my child not having the "extras." So, I just need for Him to get that from my head into my heart.

Monday, December 6, 2010

House shoe drama

I think I'm going to change our last name to "Drama." Seriously, we have drama over the craziest things at my house. Tonight, it was house shoes--yep, you read that right--HOUSE SHOES.

One of my daughters had 3 pair of house shoes. When I was helping to clean out her closet yesterday (or should I say shovel it out), she told me that 2 of the pair were too small. One went to the goodwill pile since they would probably only fit a 3 year old--not sure how they stayed in her closet so long (then again, I did say I had to shovel it out when cleaning). The other pair went to my younger daughter's room.

Well, tonight, the little one came out wearing them and the older one was almost beside herself thinking she had "stolen" them from her closet (can you imagine what my house will be like when my girls are teenagers and actually DO steal clothes from each other--do massage therapists let you put their services on layaway? Anyone know how I can get stock in Advil?). She didn't remember telling me they were too small, she was just determined they still fit her. Well, after many tears, she tried them on and they did fit--as long as she curled her toes up inside.

By her reaction, you would think that these were designer house shoes, but they are ragged, and dirty, and were hand-me-downs from somewhere, so they don't even have sentimental value. She has another pair in her closet that have never been worn, were given to her by her Mimi and are way trendier than the scruffy orange plaid ones.

While I sat back, incredulous, at the amount of passion these shoes brought forth from my 8 year old, I think God whispered to me. I say, "think" because I really was trying not to listen. It was so much easier to look at my child and see how wrong her thinking was instead of listening. Focus out instead of in.

Wanna know what He said? Tune in tomorrow and I'll tell you. Just kidding--I wouldn't leave you hanging like that. What I "think" He said to me was, "How many times do I give you something great, something that is so perfect for you, but you don't even acknowledge it because you are so caught up in wanting what someone else has?"

Hmmm...I think I'd rather make fun of the drama going on in front of me than listen. What's ironic, is that when I look at the two pair of houseshoes left, the scruffy ones are truly not something my oldest would ever wear, but they would fit my youngest's personality to a tee.

So, I guess I learned something from house shoes tonight. Am I truly looking for God's best for me or am I settling for what is familiar? Am I listening to His voice or too busy looking around me at what others' are doing?

Oh, and I learned that Santa might need to rethink his gifts to the Royal girls this year and add some new house shoes to his bag.