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Be Persistent!

B is for Blessed!

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, Hebrews 12:1 NIV

Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. Luke 18:1 NIV

Persistence is something we must each embrace if we are going to obtain the very best God has for us. Each of us is called to finish our race. There will be trials and obstacles, distractions and pitfalls but we must push through if we are ever to reach the prize that awaits us at the end.

Persistence often separates those who could from those who would.

You don’t always have to be the most “qualified.” Sometimes all it takes to get ahead is showing up and…

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Solo!

School is back in session and guess who’s flying solo…

B is for Blessed!

Today is the first day of school for my youngest child. Lan begins his senior year without the watchful eyes of big brother nearby.

There was a time I’d be worried sick.

Today, I’m simply grateful.

Today my kid is flying solo!

Class schedule finalized? Check!

IEP (individualized education plan) in place and all participants on board? Check!

No big brother around to chaperone? Check!

Lan is “free to be me.”

And that’s a good thing.

I vividly recall Lan’s first year of high school.  He was tiny compared to the other kids, walking out of class with his hands over his ears because he couldn’t stand the noise.

Three years later, Lan stands head and shoulders above most students and is an eager participant in the hallway chatter!

No longer a freshman or marching band “rookie,” he is making plans to map out his future. Lan envisions a future…

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Look to His Light

 

Don’t let obstacles overshadow your blessings. When you step into His Light you will often find that the smallest of miracles are far greater than they appear.

“I have come [as] a light into the world, that whoever believes in Me should not abide in darkness,” John 12:46 NKJV

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Fragile!

I’m enjoying a plethora of blooms in my yard before the sweltering heat comes and takes hold of us here in the southeast. However, the slightest wind or harsh rains send petals all a flutter to the ground. As beautiful as the blooms are, their beauty fades quickly and doesn’t last.

Sometimes I feel just as fragile. I have the best of intentions. But sometimes my “to do” list just doesn’t get done. My mind sometimes swims through a list of things to do and should have done. Regret for lost time can intrude upon my progress and leave me feeling as helpless as my roses in the storm.

Or there are times when I’m okay but my children seem a bit battered and bruised. The struggle to meet or exceed expectations can wear them down.  Keeping them “up” and encouraged while trying to adhere to the same advice I give them is sometimes…hard.

We all go through times when we feel weak, weary and just need some relief. I’ve sometimes felt vulnerable and ready to wilt under changing demands and looming uncertainties

The picture posted above reminds me of the frailty of life.  We are often just as weak and helpless, susceptible to life’s storms.

Or are we?

The temporary highs in life are beautiful but they can’t last forever. Just like those frail blooms. It is the strong and pointed stems that support the fleeting beauty. The petals are soft but the thorns are sharp. Those painful thorns stems facilitate survival. Those stems support the blooms.

I think on this as I think back on how God has supported me through the years. It hasn’t always been pretty, but His love has never failed. Some situations were sticky. A few, quite painful. Yet through them all, God lifted us up and displayed His beauty often at times when I felt I was past done!

We don’t have to be strong all the time. We just have to be willing to be supported by Him. This will often leave us in a few prickly situations that can be painful. Some may even draw blood. But when we are supported by God, our strength then comes from Him!

When I feel fragile, it’s okay. I’m not dependent on my strength at all. God is supporting me, my trials, concerns and even my dreams. I don’t fear when one bloom fades. Trusting God eases my mind, pushes away my fears and reassures me that I don’t have to “feel” okay to be okay. There may be times when I look like I’m fading fast, but God holds me up!

Even when I’m spent, with Him lies the potential for future blooms.

“And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness…” 2 Corinthians 12:9

 

Hang In There!

I had the luxury today of spending time in my garden. I didn’t have to do anything but enjoy a welcome visitor. As I enjoyed the pleasant breeze, my friend pictured above struggled to hold on!

Yet, he didn’t particularly seem to mind as he went about observing me as much as I observed him. He knew exactly what to do to keep stable, grounded and not subject himself to wavering in the wind.

I thought about that for a moment. This last couple of weeks left me feeling like I was just holding on. With standardized testing, finals and all the other stuff that comes along with two teenagers and the end of the school year, I felt at risk of losing my grip (and maybe my mind) at any moment!

Like the dragonfly, I should have been quick to hunker down and hold on to my support. God has proven faithful more times than I can count. Yet, sometimes I find myself in the scurry mode of trying to do, do, do when I should just cling to Him and rest instead.    DSC_7885 (2)

When we have done all we can, I think many of us find ourselves at a loss and look for more to do. Instead of looking to do more, I’m convinced there are times God doesn’t want us to do anything at all but cling to Him.  When we are mature enough to realize we have done all we can and allow Him to do all He can, situations we have no control over lose their control over us!

I’m finished with the hustle of the school year for ten glorious weeks. Many of you who read this blog have a couple more to go. Even if it isn’t the end of school you’re counting down, we all have something that we are waiting on or hoping for.

I urge you to hang in there with all that you have! Your strong winds will eventually pass. Peace will come once again. Often when things look grim up to the end, God is faithful! He makes possible those things many fear are impossible.

When it looks like the end, praise God for what He has done. When it does not look good, thank Him for what He is doing. Look back and remember where you were and thank Him for getting you where you are now. Sometimes there isn’t anything more to do but hang in there with a faith that refuses to fade.

 “But [as for] you, brethren, do not grow weary [in] doing good.” 2 Thessalonians 3:13 NKJV

“There remains therefore a rest for the people of God. For he who has entered His rest has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His. Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall according to the same example of disobedience.” Hebrews 4:9-11 NKJV

**A very special thanks for those of you who prayed for us and a good conclusion to this first year of high school. Lan passed ALL of his classes! With much prayer, hard work, the help of teachers who tutored him and lots of “tough love” he ended the semester with a 3.00 g.p.a. We’ve come a long way with many miles to go, but we hang in there!

Lessons Learned!

“Those who are planted in the house of the LORD Shall flourish in the courts of our God,” Psalms 92:12

Tomorrow marks the last day of the school year. I began this blog in August upon Lan’s entry into high school. He was nervous. I was scared.

Ever thankful for God’s blessings along our way, I was still anxious and filled with trepidation about this new reality.

Well, we made it! One year down, three to go.

Lan’s last exam is today. He is doing well and should pass it without any problem. We are still waiting on test results from one EOCT (End of Course Test) for biology which is required to earn credit for the class. I am ever hopeful for a good result.

Since this blog practically began with his first day of school, I figured I’d share lessons I’ve learned this year.

Lesson number one, God really IS in control.

At the onset of the school year the huge crowds of kids were overwhelming. The para-pro assigned to assist Lan to his classes (the campus is large with several buildings) actually met my husband years ago.

I’m sure my husband had no idea of the role this gentleman would play in our lives. I am convinced the prior association worked to our advantage. The gentleman not only did his “job” but went above and beyond keeping us posted on how our guy was making out throughout the day. We deliberately sent Lan to this school because we knew the principal and counselor well. The para was an “extra” God through into the mix!

Lan didn’t require his help for long and after two weeks navigated on his own. Yet, I am forever grateful. It was one less thing I had to worry think about.

In addition, Lan had the same geography teacher who taught my oldest son last year. My husband established a great relationship with her then having no idea it would benefit us this year. God does order our steps!

Lesson number two, my kid is capable!

Lan’s teachers watched him come out of his nervous shell and become quite out-spoken! During the last IEP meeting, his math teacher played a video of him before the class explaining an algebraic problem and the steps to solve it.

My husband and I were floored. I’m convinced this kid has an alter-ego. His confidence increased under the care of supportive teachers. I suspect his charming demeanor didn’t hurt either.

Most significantly, Lan made new friends. Real friends. I often thought about him sitting alone at lunch. And for a while, he did.

But slowly, very slowly, he would mention who he ate with at lunch. One friend from middle school would join him on “odd” days when they shared the same schedule.

A new friend from the magnet school starting eating with him also. An upperclassman we know joined in “to watch out for him.” More kids from band class were eventually mentioned. Just last week, Lan told me he skipped eating lunch to sit with his friends and talk instead. How about that?

We have had a few “blips” along the way. However, Lan learned from them and wasn’t defeated. He is no longer upset I didn’t allow him to attend the school he is zoned for. He’s found friends at his school. I asked him recently how he felt about this first year of high school. I finally got the reaction I’d hoped for, “I like it.”

 Lesson number three, Iet go a little.

I am a micro-manage mom. I’m ever working on that, trying to allow both kids room to succeed and fail.  DSC_6962 (2)

Some lessons you only learn the hard way. Lan’s improving grades boosted his confidence. When he fails to study or prepare, he now feels the pain.

His social skills improved because I’m allowing more freedom to learn what works and what doesn’t. At the awards ceremony he didn’t sit with me or my husband. He founds his friends. At the band banquet my husband laughed that Lan quickly left him in a cloud of dust and had a ball.

Without me hovering, he can relax and figure it out. Lan will get the chance to relax for an entire week of summer camp at Clemson University. Last year when he asked about going away like his brother, I was like “not happening” in my brain. Well, a year later he’ll be off on his own adventure.

Sometimes I want to intervene but God says no, let Lan figure it out. And let Him guide my child.

I can’t always be there for Lan. But God can. I trust Him Who can do more for my child than I am able to provide.

Lesson number four, sometimes I just need to get out-of-the-way and let God be God. DSC_6420

 “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6

 

Special Mothers for Special Kids

Last week over at Devotions by Chris,  Chris wrote about several mothers in the Bible who allowed their faith to push them to do extraordinary things.  I believe there is no mother more significant than Mary, the mother of our Savior Jesus Christ. First of all she was a regular girl who found herself in a situation she never imagined.

Just… like… us.

Can you imagine being an unmarried virgin receiving the news “you are going to conceive the Messiah?!” No pressure there!

I’m confident at some point Mary struggled with her responsibility. I’ve struggled with mine.  I thought there was no room for missteps.  

Mary and Joseph lost their twelve-year-old son and found him three days later! Three days! Can you imagine you are responsible for raising the Messiah and you lose Him!? God did not open up the heavens and rebuke Mary and Joseph for their carelessness. Likewise, we should cut ourselves some slack when we fail in things far less significant.

Another lesson is that Mary saw the potential within her child. It is up to us to do the same. John 2:9 describes one of the first miracles Jesus performed. He turned water into wine. In verse four Jesus says “my hour has not yet come.” However, Mary had other ideas. She told the servants, “Whatever he says to you, do it.” Upon His mother’s insistence, Jesus had the servants fill pots with water which He later turned into wine.

As parents it is our responsibility to speak to the potential in our kids. This may mean IEPs, tutors, therapy, doctor’s visits and whatever it takes to pull out the potential we know is there. Many doubted Mary and we will doubt us as well, however we must stand firm on what God says. Following her example, we must insist and persist.

We can also follow Mary’s example of receiving God’s grace for her assignment. Mary was forced to witness her child tortured and vilified for the sake of the world. The problems our children face are upsetting to us as well. But we are available for our children. Mary could not help her child; the crucifixion was something Jesus had to do alone. We are available and able through Christ to meet the needs of our kids.

Mary was there for her child until the end. A mother’s love will do that…follow through until the end. God allows us the same grace. Always remember, the third day. Mary endured witnessing her son’s death only to find joy in the Resurrection. Sometimes we may feel like our path is overwhelming, unbeatable or even insurmountable. Many people get stuck on the “first day” or the death of their dream when faced with the realities of parenting and the challenges their children face.

On the “second day,” grief for what could have been keeps some parents from looking forward to what could be. Things often look dark. There are often reports and diagnosis that confuse and condemn. Dreams for the future seem impossible.

Yet thank God, He makes the impossible, possible. If Mary’s story teaches us anything, it is to stick in there until the end. What looks like the end isn’t necessarily so. Hang in there with your child, hang on to what God has promised you.

Every child has some special need. Some needs are more obvious than others. Some are revealed early in life. Some won’t manifest for years later. God equips us to do what we have been called to do. Mary was chosen to be the mother of Jesus.

We were chosen by God to parent the children He has blessed us with as well.

“Whoever receives one of these little children in My name receives Me; and whoever receives Me, receives not Me but Him who sent Me.” Mark 9:37 NKJV