Monday, April 27, 2015

A Letter to My Son


My Dearest Son, 

I can't believe you are two years old. I want you to know, sweetie, that mama and daddy have prayed for you from before we knew you were you and every day through now...

The day you were born was a really long day.  But through it all, my sweet boy, I prayed for you and for me and safety for us both.  

The plans we initially had were changed, but you didn't mind hanging in a while longer.  The nurse showed us your heart rate and said you were having a party every time mama's body hugged you tight.  I had to laugh, because you already sounded very much like mama and how she was when she was your age.  When the final preparations for your arrival had been made, mommy and daddy sat holding hands waiting to hear your sweet, beautiful voice for the first time.  When I heard it, it was music to my ears and brought tears of joy to my eyes.  And I praised God and thanked him.

Daddy got to hold you first and we took your first pictures in this world.  Then you were taken with daddy to get cleaned up and shown off.  It took a while for mama to be able to see you again and hold you for the first time. While I waited, I prayed. I prayed for you, and me, and daddy and I praised God. As soon as I held you in my arms, I couldn't believe how very tiny you were and how much my body just overflowed with love and joy for you and for God.  At that moment I finally understood just how much God loves us and the extreme sacrifice that He made by sending his own son to save us. And I prayed thanking God over and over for Jesus and for you.

In the past two years, I have been overwhelmed with the pure love I have for you my son. Every minute has been an amazing adventure.  You surprise me every day with something new that you have learned. And I am in awe of the little man you are becoming before my eyes.

I want you to know, Bug, that I pray for you. I pray that you will develop a love for Jesus that grows and grows.  I pray that you go where God leads you and serve Him faithfully and fully.  I pray for your health.  I pray for your protection. But I pray most of all for your salvation.  Because, Bug, that is the most important thing in this world for you.  

As important as it is for mama and daddy to take care of you, feed you, clothe you, educate you, read to you, hug you, bathe you and love you, it is no where near as important as telling you about Jesus.  So my son, I want you to know that mama and daddy love you.  And Jesus loves you too.

I also want you to know that church will be a huge part of who we are and not just a place we go.

We will read our Bibles together as a family, because it is the most important book ever because it is God's words.  And we will memorize scriptures so you can be prepared for the battle that is life.

We will pray together as a family and mama and daddy will teach you to pray, because it is our responsibility to introduce you to Jesus and we don't take it lightly.

My dearest son, I know I will make mistakes, I have already made a plenty. But my promise to you, is that I will continue to pray. I will pray for guidance to parent you well.  I will pray for patience and strength and I will remember to teach you about God's grace by giving you grace. And I will demonstrate God's forgiveness by giving it to you and asking for it from you when I make mistakes. 

I thank God for you daily, my son. I will love you forever and pray for you always.

Love 
Mama 

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Take Off That Scarlet "S"

There she is.  That lady at church. You know the one, she corners you every time she sees you and she asks "well meaning" questions like, "Are you dating anyone?" And sometimes she says it and sometimes it's left hanging in the air unspoken, but you hear it anyway..."You aren't getting any younger."

I remember that question, I heard it many times.  And it stings, whether we care to admit it or not.  Because in reality the answer may be out of our control.  "No, I'm not dating anyone...because no one has asked me out." But instead we slap on the happy face and the "I'm Independent Banner" and say, "No, I'm not." And the truly lovely ones say, "Well you just haven't found anyone good enough for you" and the ornery ones say, "You're getting too old to be so picky."

Oy vey! 

I want to tell you today, dear sister or brother, that you are not forgotten.  If you are single and feel like there is this dead-end age where you can't possibly get married if you are older than that, so all hope is lost, I tell you, there is no such age! Even when I tried to make one!  My aunts and mom stitched quilts for my sister and I the summer before my great aunt passed away.  That Christmas, her daughter gave those quilts to my sister and I as gifts, which was so sweet.  However, they were Wedding Ring quilts, meant to go on your marriage bed and neither of us were married at the time.  So the quilts were placed back in their boxes until we were married.  As I got older and older, I began to place an age on my quilt, telling my parents that if I wasn't married by 35 or 40 then I should just get it anyway, plus the wedding fund that they had!

But there is hope.  And it's not some fairy tale Prince Charming coming to rescue you and carry you away- because 1- this is reality and 2- what is he even rescuing you from?  Being single is NOT a disease.  It's a lifestyle.  It's a season.  It's a freedom. It's a calling-(Hello look at Paul)-  "Now as a concession, not a command, I say this. I wish that all were as I myself am. But each has his own gift from God, one of one kind and one of another. To the unmarried and the widows I say that it is good for them to remain single as I am. But if they cannot exercise self-control, they should marry. For it is better to marry than to burn with passion." 1 Corinthians 7:6-9 (ESV)




So first things first, stop viewing your singleness as a cross to bear or a scarlet "S" upon your chest. (You know like the Scarlet Letter that she had to wear in shame... just look it up if you don't know.)  And start looking to Jesus.  Because I actually got it wrong earlier- there really is a Prince Charming and he did come to rescue us- but not from singleness- from sin.  So lean into Jesus.  You don't have to be all, "Jesus is my boyfriend" because that's just awkward- instead focus on Jesus is your Lord, your King and you are treasured and loved.

Please know that God hasn't forgotten you.  If you are a Christian, then you are his child. Acts 17:28  He loves you. John 16:27  He knows the hairs on your head. Matthew 10:30 He knows the ache in your heart.1 John 3:20 and Acts 15:8  And He also knows the plans He has for you Jeremiah 29:11 and the work He has created for you- you specifically- to do. Ephesians 2:10 Rest in these promises and truly seek Him.  And when we seek God with all of our heart, he gives us the desires of our hearts. Psalm 37:4  Beware- don't misinterpret this verse into making God a genie who grants your wishes.  Because what the verse is actually saying is as we seek more and more of God (through fellowship with other believers -church, reading his word, praying) and building that relationship with Jesus then our hearts deepest desires will align with God's desires for us.  And let me tell you, from experience, His plan is a WHOLE lot better than anything you can think up!

As the years pass by, it's easy to start feeling this imaginary (or real) pressure to marry. To believe a lie that says you can't be happy or complete until you have your "other half".  That is just bologna. My husband does not complete me, nor do I complete him.  Only Jesus can complete you.  Don't let others make you feel inferior or incomplete like you have this Scarlet "S" upon your chest.  Run to Jesus (who was single by the way) and trust him to guide you.



Love in Christ,

Alyson

PS- You can also check out this post on living life now and not waiting for marriage for your life to start.

**Also the Autism Fundraiser ends April 29th.  If you are interested in more info, you can contact me or check out the info here.



Thursday, April 16, 2015

Thick Skin

Life is messy.  It just is. Sin entered the world and broke it. Which led to broken people. My husband likens this to a mirror.  When God created Adam and Eve they were like mirrors reflecting all the blessings God sent down into glory and praise and worship straight back up to Him. But when sin entered the world the mirror was busted.  The blessings still come down from God, but the glory and worship and praise is fractured and going off in all different directions (picture light hitting a broken mirror) and we then worship and praise other things and not just God.


We are a broken people with jagged edges.  And what happens when you encounter a jagged edge? Typically it jabs you and it hurts.  This could be physical pain where you actually do get hit, stabbed, bruised and it can also be emotional pain of harsh words, gossip, meanness, or bullying.  Both pains can wound and cause irreversible damage, but in my opinion, emotional pain even that caused by physical pain is the hardest to heal.

When I was younger, I wanted to believe the best of people.  I truly believed that people were over all good and just had a bad day here or there.  But after being walked over and taken advantage of many times I started developing a "tough skin."  I've heard people recommend many times throughout the past 10 years that you need to grow a thick skin and it seems to be an accepted practice.  But I have a problem with it.  And the problem is that if my outer skin is too thick and hardened then I can't be molded into the person the God wants me to be. (I mean sure God is all powerful, so He can completely break you but I think He also works in more subtle ways.)

I heard one time, I don't even remember where, that people can be like sandpaper - they rub you the wrong way and it hurts to be around them. But quite possibly God is using that person in your life to smooth out some of those jagged edges we were talking about before.  If we have a thick skin that allows everything people say to roll right on past, then we are opening up the door for pride to take root and closing the opportunity for people to point out those areas we need to work on.

Another detriment for having a "thick skin" is the wall it places between you and other people.  We were created for community and relationship, but if we keep our guard up all the time we are keeping ourselves from experiencing genuine, loving friendships.

Now let me say, there are absolutely times when we need to let what people say, roll right off our back.  And there are some relationships that don't need to be strengthened or developed.  This is where praying for discernment can be a HUGE help.  Because I do see (usually waaaay after the fact) that sandpaper people have their purpose, and that I look more like Jesus once they have rubbed me raw, but those are NOT the people with which I want to have deep, loving, trusting relationship. Jesus had an inner circle and the Pharisees weren't in it... not that that sandpaper lady in your church is a Pharisee... necessarily...haha ;-)

But life is messy.  And though becoming a believer in Jesus Christ does repair our mirror as much as possible in this world (as we let it), we are still broken.  We are still in need of grace and forgiveness. And we still need to extend the same grace and forgiveness to others.

In all transparency here, I will tell you that this has been an ongoing process for me over the last 10 years.  I have been hurt by many ugly words posted on social media, blogs, or even spoken to others and I started putting up walls.  It hurt my ministry and it hurt my witness.  Not to mention it's been down right lonely.

But as one blog I read recently put it, I am ready to be more of a rubber band, allowing stuff to bounce right off instead of a rock that keeps everything out.  Because the blog also pointed out that we are to be both a rubber band and a sponge.  Using discernment (that you've already prayed for right) to know what you need to take in and what you need to ignore.  And when we remember that people, even Christian brothers and sisters, are broken we can understand a little better why they jabbed us with a jagged edge, that they may not even recognize is there. And quite possibly God will use both of us as a sandpaper person that rubs (annoys :-) ) each other until the jagged edge is gone!


Love in Christ,

Alyson


**PS If you are here to check out information for the Autism Fundraiser I am sponsoring this month for Autism Awareness you can find that info here