Wednesday, April 30, 2014

5 Tender Moments

I've posted two stories tonight.  I just had so much to write!!  The other one follows this one.  :-)

Jordan:  Talking with a King

We all knelt down for prayer a few days ago, and I asked the children who would like to say the prayer.  Jordan immediately shot his hand in the air.  Before he said his prayer he took advantage of 7 other listening ears and shared a sweet and tender perspective…

Jordan said, "You know why I like to say the prayer?  It's a great opportunity!  You know… we would never get a chance to speak to kings and rulers of other countries… but God is our King, and we get to talk to HIM all the time…"  With added excitement he added, "…and we can talk to HIM as LONG as we want to!!!"

What a BEAUTIFUL perspective!!  Joy filled my entire body to know that my 8-year old son knew the opportunity to pray to God was a great honor, and he actually knew he was speaking to the greatest of all Kings.  He had such a good point!  I don't even let the children talk to me as long as they want to!!  I usually have to cut them off after a while because I have a diaper to change or dinner to prepare.  I'm so grateful to be reminded of the wonderful honor it is to speak to my Heavenly Father through my Savior, Jesus Christ… as long and as often as I want to… our King of Kings!!

Tyson:  Comforting His Sister

Little 6-year old Mariah had watched a scary Michael Jackson video last week and was feeling scared to go to sleep.  I over heard 10-year old Tyson talking to her and comforting her.

He said, "Mariah, you know you have a picture in your room of Jesus.  If you remember Jesus and that HE is there, then you don't have to be scared.  It's like a force field that shoots the bad guys back."  Mariah loved his answer.  What a profound, simple truth!!  Isn't that why we have pictures of Jesus all through our homes?  …to remember that HE is there.. even when we feel a little scared.  

This is Mariah's special picture of Jesus in her room.  The little girl even reminds me of Mariah. :-)

Siblings:  Lifting Each Other with Love

I remember when Jackson, our 12-year old, was just a toddler I went into a Lowe's and saw a big brother carrying his little sister on his back.  That image always stuck with me, and I hoped that my boys would help their younger siblings the same way as they got older.

Fast forward about 8 years to this picture as we entered the grocery store on Monday… Each older brother wanted to take care of a sibling. This picture is my screen saver right now. :-)  My dream come true...

Home-school Evaluation

I have felt a bit of anxiety over the past couple of days over the end-of-the-year evaluations on home-schooled students in Florida.  Utah and Michigan don't do anything like that!  Even though my children are doing well and excelling, I have felt a heavy weight wondering if what I have taught them would be what the state of Florida was looking for.

This morning I prayed for guidance on this very subject.  I had asked a teacher/friend of ours in Orlando area to do the evaluation on my children, but yesterday I found out that she was not eligible to do that evaluation because even though she taught music in the public schools, she was not a certified primary or secondary educator.  

I don't know why it bothered me so much, but it really got me down.  I didn't like the thought of strangers placing judgments on my children's intelligence- even though (just like any parent) I think they are all quite brilliant. :-)  I also didn't want them judging my methods of teaching.  In my frustration, I sent a text message to my husband telling him I was feeling discouraged and needed to go for a run. 

I always say a prayer before my runs to ask God to bless my children at home and to bless me to feel strengthened physically, mentally, and emotionally.

While I ran, I began to feel stressed because I wasn't running faster.  It was over 90 degrees, and I was drenched in sweat.  I had to stop to cool myself down.  I hate stopping during a run because I feel like a quitter.  Even though nobody was watching me run, I was putting undue pressure on myself that someone was watching me stop to walk when I thought I should have been running.  I continued in this thought process for a while when finally, the thought came to me:  

"Rachel… you can go at whatever speed you want to!!  It doesn't matter how fast you run!!  Just do your best!"  

The moment I didn't care what others were thinking was the moment I actually ran faster and stronger… I had freed myself from that stress and allowed myself to enjoy the journey.  I looked up more and enjoyed the ocean more.  

My thoughts turned to my children.  I told myself that I didn't care what others thought about my children's educational progress.  I think they're pretty awesome, and they're doing their best!

Tonight I went to church for Jackson's scouting program.  While I was there, I met a woman who was visiting from a city about 25 minutes away.  After she and I chatted for a while, our conversation turned to home-schooling.  She expressed interest in home-schooling her own children.  I told her I wasn't sure what the state of Florida required for their end-of-year evaluation and that I was worried about it.  She immediately said,"I'll do the evaluation for you!  I've done lots of those before."  

I couldn't believe it!  She was a certified teacher and had experience helping home-schooled students before!  I gathered the children in to listen to her as she told us what she would be looking for in her evaluation.  Her words comforted us all and completely removed any remaining weight of discouragement I had been feeling.  What an answer to prayer!! Today was the day the home-school office sent me the required end-of-year paperwork, and today- the very same day- our certified teacher literally walked into our lives. There isn't a single certified primary or secondary teacher in my entire congregation, but she happened to be visiting from a congregation a few cities away. 

My Squishy Tire

I left the church tonight around 9:30pm.  By the time I arrived to the van, the children were gathered around my tire.  Jordan asked me why the back tire looked, "squishy."  I took a better look… indeed it was squishy.  There was a screw lodged right in the middle of the tire.  My first instinct was to grumble.  Abe had already been gone for 2 1/2 weeks, and he wouldn't be returning for another 5 days.  I wondered why I had to deal with this stuff alone with all 6 kids.  

I said a silent prayer and drove to the nearest gas station to put air in the tire.  Usually our churches are built in the nicer sides of town, but this was definitely on a sketchy side of town.  I walked into the gas station to get change for the air pump, and on the way back out I noticed some strange things:

A group of guys were off on one side suspiciously digging into a trunk.  I looked across the parking lot across the small side street, and there was a police officer watching the activity from his parked car.  With my active imagination, I envisioned a full-blown confrontation between the police and these guys bursting out at any moment.  

I tried to push away my paranoia as I struggled for a bit trying to figure out how much air to put into the tire.  Normal tires should read 35-40 psi.  Written on my giant, 12-passenger van tire was the guideline to fill it to 80 psi.  That didn't seem right to me, but I wanted to fill it as much as I could so I could make it home and hopefully have air for my morning trip to the repair shop.  As I put air into my tire I wondered why I didn't have a tire gauge in my car anymore.  "What a foolish thing!"  As I walked back into the gas station, I promised myself I would buy one soon.

I asked the employee for advice on my tires.  We debated in the store for a moment about what I should do when a customer quickly offered to help me since he had a tire gauge in his car.  

I was already a bit paranoid about the area, and this guy looked a bit rough himself.  Despite his appearance, he seemed sincere, so I accepted his help.  The man checked my tires and gave me some sound advice about what to do.  Before he left he said, "Would you like to keep this gauge?" Even though I knew I really should have one- especially now- I declined his offer.  He offered again, and I told him I would pay him a few dollars for it.  

Finally, this rough looking man with tattoos covering his body very kindly said, "Please do me a favor and take this tire gauge.  It would make me feel a whole lot better."  

As I took the tire gauge, I felt tears begin to well up in my eyes.  I needed to feel like somebody was taking care of me at that moment.  His kind gesture made me feel as if God was telling me HE was watching out for me to have the things I need even though my husband is gone.  I know I need to be careful about who I trust, but I also know that God was watching out for me.  I felt that God was watching out for that man too!!  Both of us were edified by his kind act of service!  

What a beautiful life it is when we know God is taking care of the details!!