My nephew is a master manipulator, the combination of his adorableness and his tiny three year old voice can convince you to do anything. When he started eating real food we instantly bonded over love of anything sweet and I started bringing him little goodies every time i’d see him. Every time he would see me he would smile that little kid smile that makes you melt and say “aunt tindy can I have some mm’s”. I always gave in, after all when he got fussy I could just send him back to his mom. One day he was at my parents house in my old room and he looked at my mom and said “Birdie, (my moms grandmother name) Aunt Tindy loves candy” she laughed and said “yes she does boo” to which he replied, “I love tindy”. They soon figured out that the copious amounts of sugar I was giving him made him rather moody and told me I had to shut the candy factory down. So I did my best to cut back on the sweet shop and he figured out while Isaac tried to figure out how to trick us into giving in. He would see me reaching for some cake and look at me and say, “whats that”, as if he didn’t know. I would say, “its cake buddy” and he would look up at me like he had never seen it before and say, “i can have a little piece”, as if I had asked. He also started telling his dad that things were good for him, like brownies, cookies, and ice cream. Perhaps one of the funniest things he started doing was when he would see something he really wanted he would come up and grab my hand and say. “tindy I show you” then bring me to whatever he wanted and when I would say no he would say. “I can hold it though”. Every time there was a desert he couldn’t have until after dinner he’d say. “I can hold it though”. He would walk around my parents house with his pockets stuffed full of lollipops and fruit snacks waiting until we would say ok. Any candy he saw he wanted to hold it, staring at it with his big blue eyes. Occasionally we would find him in the corner lollipop in his mouth and a guilty look on his face like it had just been too much to bear. It was hard to be mad at the little guy when I sympathized so much. He thought he could handle the temptation but in the end it won.
God is not too good for irony and symbolism, in the bible he plays off of them, demonstrating a deep connection with his peoples hearts through each generation. God asked Abraham to sacrifice his only son Isaac giving us a human picture of his own heart wrenching sacrifice. David became king at age 30, the same age that Jesus started his ministry. Jesus was a storyteller, a master of his language, seeing that even the small things would captivate the people he had created. He displays his deep seated devotion to us by making strives to relate to us in a human way, even though he is not human. He is hold and in his holiness God chooses to act human, it is his way of courting us, making us feel as if we can truly relate to the God of the universe. Suffering as humans suffer, feeling as humans feel, and accepting that his own people would give his love back to him. Gods love is strewn throughout the pages of the bible, the humbling of himself when he was something so much greater simply so we could understand. He sits on a glorious throne and at your doorstep. He is praised by all creation yet he is rejected by mere humans. He knew our minds could never grasp all that he is so he came up with a way to relate to us. He tells life’s greatest lessons in the form of children stories, he does miracles to grab our attention, and thousands of years later we are still amazed at his irony, sense of humor, and powerful love. Our God is not a boring God, nor does he act in vain. He makes purposeful moves to demonstrate his deep connection to our souls. He makes us laugh in grief, smile in pain, trust what we cannot see. We often want to rattle off reasons for things that seem too coincidental but what if we started giving credit where credit is due.
One of the fears I had when I became a Christian in college was that I would have to give up a part of my life I greatly enjoyed, fun. I thought I would trade in the bars for Friday night bible study and early morning prayer breakfast. I thought, like many people do, that God is a rule follower and doesn’t enjoy laughter, humor, or even celebration but I came to learn that not only is that not true but God enjoys our celebration and laughter, after all he created them. I had bought into the lies of this world that fun only came with drinking and partying, I looked on the Christians in my high school and felt sorry for them. I thought they were missing out on all the “life” I was enjoying. I didn’t realize until I cleaned myself up that my partying had caused scars that God so desperately wanted me to avoid and the alcohol I thought made my life so fun was holding me hostage under its allusion of parties and fun. It wasn’t until I tried to give up my old life that I realized not only how wrong I was about Christians but how wrong I was about my sin. My sin was controlling me not the other way around. So after four years of running from God I decided to give over my life to him, starting over at 19 wasn’t easy and it did require sacrifice but I gained my freedom in return. God brought me deep friendships that didn’t require alcohol or compromising who I was and he taught me how to enjoy life. I had spent years pushing my family away and then I realized they were the best friends I could find. Its no surprise that I learned how to have “clean Christian fun” in the midst of my loving family and I saw my old sin for what it was, chains. I saw people trying to reach freedom with each sip, hoping it would release the person they really were or make them who they wanted to be. I could finally see the lie. I learned to be myself despite socially awkward situations and found laughter was more fun sober, Saturdays were better without a hangover, and fufulling Gods purpose for me was more rewarding than any Friday night. God doesnt ask me to sit at home on Friday night and since following him I have given up a lot to gain it all, I met my husband and had my greatest desires satisfied. I have found lasting friendships that cant be shaken by distance and a constant guiding hand that never leaves.
Ben spent this Saturday making a slingshot out of surgical rope and a stick he cut down from one of the few trees in Texas while I cleaned the house and planted flowers in the front yard. We went to home depot, argued over the color of flowers, and took the dogs to chase ducks in a pond near our house. I bought gardening gloves and spent 45 minutes debating with him over whether I had planted the snapdragons too close together and then it hit me, when did I become a cliche? When did the lines I always laughed about in Old School really become my life. I might not be barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen all day but I am in there quite a bit. As a couple in our sunday school class put it, when did I start living a life just like everyone else? When did I start caring about dried flower arrangements and china patterns? When you are young you convince yourself that you will avoid the life that everyone else has fallen into and when you get older you come to accept that you really cant. I always said I would never be a housewife who spent their days cooking and cleaning and saying sentences like “put the toilet seat down” and “don’t get mud on the floor I just mopped” then I got married. Its time like this you realize the world really has nothing to offer and you can only be content when you put your focus on above. I get more joy out of watching Ben shoot his sling shot at trees, while Aiden cuddles terrified in my lap, that I ever thought possible. Texas has taught me that my ducks will never line up in a row but I can make a choice to focus on the things that really matter. Whenever I feel myself saying I will be happy when… I tell myself that if I keep this mindset I will never be happy. I can climb each step convincing myself the next one will make me happy but I will never get to the top or I can accept the step that I am on knowing God has me here for a reason. So ill sit here and watch ben shot rocks at the tree and thank God for the blessings I could so easily pass by.
When I started substitute teaching I knew my life would be more entertaining but I didn’t expect to enjoy my days so much. I found myself popping out of bed at 6am ready for a new adventure. My first real experience with high school freshman left quite a lasting impact. It was only my third day to be in a classroom with kids and I could feel my little heart pounding as I made my way through the maze that they call Katy High School. I met the teacher in her classroom since I was only doing the afternoon and she explained to me how the rest of the day would go, warning me about a few problem children in her 5th period. I was supposed to be reading them articles about AIDS in Africa and then going over the questions and prompting them on the right answers. She thanked me in a hurry and made her way out the door. Twenty pairs of eyes looked up at me expectantly, I thought this might be what it would be like to be an actor, I smiled back. I managed to quiet them down and read through an entire page of information about the horrific tragedy that is AIDS in Africa. One of the boys who sat in the front row looked up at me slightly dazed as I asked the first questions.
Tomorrow my mom turns twenty one, OK maybe not, but in spirit she is still as young as ever. Sadly I will not be there to give her a big hug and tell her how much she will always mean to me but I am hopeful that in the coming birthdays I will be there. I’m never sure how to thank my mother for all she has done for me, its like trying to repay a million dollars with a penny, its never quite enough. How can you thank someone for molding you in the person you have become? How can you thank someone who is so selfless despite years of pain? The world told my mother that she had every right to demand of us that she be first but not only did not she listen but she applied God’s teaching of others first and she practiced it in every area of her life. My mom is the lifeline every one needs but will only call a few when she is really hurting. She makes friends every where she goes and I don’t know one person who isn’t blessed by her presence. To the outside her job might have looked trivial, a mother of four, but her legacy is endless. Her family is already at ten and still growing and each one of us has risen up and called her blessed. My mom has truly embraced the concept of living out God’s will. Each and every day she reaches out to those around her in the small ways that really matter, she loves the people who are often forgotten. She loves the lady at the dry cleaner, the workers at her favorite stores, the bank teller, and anyone else she meets along her way. I believe my moms palace in heaven will be on a hill over looking the view so she can see some of the beauty she helped create, people that she met a long the way and with a loving smile and pointed them to God. People often forget the little things that God has asked of us, considering them to unimportant, always waiting on the big task God wants of us not realizing that we can only do the big things when we have grasped whats really important, loving others. My mom knows this, she is obedient in the small things and for that I know that she will be rewarded greatly.
When I was 20 I convinced my parents that I needed a puppy for “medical reasons”, they release endorphins, and after a year of promises that he would not end up living with them (which he did) I got one. When I took him home he was a tiny black puff ball that cried constantly for its mother and insisted that he slept curled around my neck. He weighed about five pounds and the breeder assured me that he took more after his cavalier father than his beagle mother and that he wouldn’t weigh more than eighteen pounds.
Ben and I were so adamant about having a different kind of marriage, we wanted to avoid the pit falls that most married couples fell into so that we could continue our passionate love throughout marriage. We wanted to always stay in that place where everything feels great and you always have to be touching and we were convinced we could do it. We were convinced that our marriage would be different, that it would be an adventure, that people look at and wonder how you attain that kind of happiness. We decided we would wait to have kids and live our lives as one great journey together. This is how we ended up in Texas, the idea of exploring a new city far away from our parents would be a great way to keep our focus on our pinnacle marriage idea. We would find new restaurants, meet new people, and spend our nights staying up late staring into each others eyes. Sickening.. isn’t it? When we were dating we were convinced our fights stemmed from not being married and we would always conclude that when we were married it would be different.