Saturday, February 26, 2011

Big Girls Don't Cry...Unless Little Girls Make Them

Let the Competition Begin

So two years ago, we signed Big Sister up for soccer. I was excited, I admit it. I played soccer and I wasn’t very good, but I did love it and I had some high hopes for my kids. Basically, Big Sister playing soccer? It was an exercise in humility…for me. She really enjoyed soccer. She enjoyed being filmed on the video camera. She enjoyed running around. She enjoyed talking to other little girls about…I don’t know…ponies? But she had no idea there was an actual game going on. I’ll never forget hollering from the sideline, “Go get the ball!” And her looking at me grinning and saying, “Where is it?”

We didn’t sign up again.

But now Big Sister has found her thing. Her school has a wonderful fine arts program and she loves trying out for and performing in the school plays. She’s done really well actually. She also discovered she loves basketball. Total shock. She is a lefty and appears to be more of an eye/hand-coordination-sport-type girl. She has a sweet little shot.

But now, Little Sister is 5 years old. And she has wanted to play soccer forever. We decided to sign her up for the local Upwards soccer program where, much to our dismay, “everybody wins”, but it was cheaper than city soccer and while we suspected she would like it much more than Big Sister, we weren’t taking any chances. They had two days last week where you could come by the church, register your child, pay your fee, and have them evaluated. Each child has to go through 4 drills to determine their skill level so the teams will be evenly formed. Whatever. Anyway, so we take Little Sister to sign up and she’s super excited. As we stood in line, someone asked Big Sister if she was playing, to which she responded, “No, I played before and I was horrible.” I immediately attempted to regain my status as competent mom by assuring her, “You weren’t horrible, you just didn’t like it very much.” Between you and me, she didn’t like it very much which translated to “she was horrible”. But you don’t say that to a seven-year-old.

When it’s finally our turn, Little Sister is ready. She does amazing in the first three drills, and then there’s the fourth, dribbling around cones. Well, you can imagine. The ball gets away from her and after getting around the first cone, it passes the next two and they holler, “Just bring it straight back!” She gives it a good hard kick which makes them think, “She’s having fun!” and makes me think, “Oh gosh, she’s pissed.” They smile big at her and say, “Good job,” and she just turns her back and runs toward me, barely holding in her tears. She cries the rest of the way home that she didn’t want to do a “good job”, she wanted to do a “great job”. She just cannot get over that she wasn’t perfect. Big Sister and I encouraged her as much as possible, but she is just as determined in her pouting as she is in her soccer performance. She is perfect when it comes to the pouting, let me tell you.

An unexpected thing happened in the midst of all this drama. Big Sister decided she wanted to give soccer another go ‘round. I had my doubts. After all, I had seen her play soccer before. I asked her to sleep on it as they had one more day of evaluations and I wasn’t ABOUT to get back at the end of the line. I also asked her to talk to Daddy about it and if, in the morning, she still wanted to play, I would bring her to the evaluation. I really did encourage her to try again; I didn’t want her settling for believing she was horrible. I wanted her to fight for it and try, try again…but I was concerned about Little Sister. She was already in full-on competitive mode.

We arrived early the next day and while we waited our turn, Little Sister whined over and over that she wanted to do it again. I braced myself for the Chrysler Town & Country counseling session I knew we’d have on the way home.

I need to add a side note here…

Big Sister has a tender heart. She weeps when we sing at church. Weeps. The girls recently went to my mother-in-law’s house while we had date night and they came home with one of Nana’s stuffed bunnies. When you squeeze the bunny, it plays Jesus Loves Me. A couple of nights ago, Big Sister came to me in tears saying, “You know how I’m kind of sensitive? And when I hear songs about Jesus it makes me so happy I cry? Little Sister keeps squeezing that bunny and it’s making me cry. Please make her stop!” My response was, “Oh honey, it’s so sweet that you love Jesus so much that the song makes you cry. Don’t worry about that. That’s a good thing.” Her answer? “But Mama! I don’t want to be crying all the time!”

Back to soccer, Little Sister had the bunny in tow when we went to Big Sister’s evaluation. Maybe you can see what’s coming, so here’s what happened. Big Sister shocked everyone, especially me, and did AMAZING! I’m not one of those parents, I swear. I’m married to a coach for Heaven’s sake and we know about those parents. But after the running drill, the guy who timed her came over and said, “Is she your daughter? She was really fast!” I about fainted. Those are words that have never been spoken about Big Sister before. I have sat in the car too many times to count, waiting for her to get her coat and shoes on, to ever think about her being “fast”. Anyway, she did great and then came that dreaded last drill, dribbling around the cones. She is a thinker and she took her time. She navigated the cones perfectly and came running off…all smiles.

“Mama!” she said, “That man said I ran really fast!” “I know!” I said, hugging her and smiling ear to ear. As we walked away, I noticed Little Sister lagged behind. She had her arms crossed and that bunny tucked firmly under her armpit. It was quite the dilemma, encouraging Big Sister quietly so that Little Sister wouldn’t get madder. Okay, I’m running out of steam so let me just say…Little Sister squeezed that bunny ALL THE WAY HOME in an effort to make Big Sister cry. And of course she herself cried at the top of her lungs. I was torn between laughing and crying. I tried my best and said, “Honey, she’s two years older than you.” To which she replied, “But I don’t want her to be older than me.” Hmmmm. Should be an interesting Spring.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The End of the Beginning

If you haven’t seen Jesus in the story yet, and I bet you have, today is the day. If there’s anything missing from the kid’s version of the story of Adam and Eve, it’s that the story is about Jesus. Take a look at what my daughter’s Bible says.

Then God made clothes for Adam and Eve.
Yep, that’s it. That’s all it says. Now, I realize that the purpose of a children’s Bible is to simplify but the most important part of the story is missing! God’s plan for redemption is missing! (I find this is often the case and the reason this study came to be in the first place.) So let’s get to the really juicy part. This is the part that has kept me going and I can’t wait to study it with you. Read Genesis 3:21.

The LORD God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them.
Are you thinking, “Huh?” Maybe you already know where we’re going with this but if you don’t, be encouraged that my first thought was, “Huh?” But look closely and think about the following questions.

Who made the garments?

What were the garments made of?

Where do you think the skin came from?

What had to happen to the animal in order to use its skin for covering?

Are you starting to get a picture here? They had attempted to cover themselves in verse 7 and apparently, their covering was insufficient. We talked about that in a blog post you can read here. So this time, the LORD God made the garments himself. These garments were made of skin, the skin of animals. In order for an animal’s skin to be used, the animal had to die. Something had to DIE.

Remember, death came into the world as a result of sin. There had been NO death up to this point. Adam had named every living creature himself. I don’t know how he felt about these creatures but I do know he had never seen one of them die. He had never seen one of them killed. He had never seen one of them sacrificed. Sacrificed to cover his shame no less. It was his fault that one of God’s creatures (and He doesn’t tell us which one) was sacrificed and died.

So here at the end of our study, let me take you back to the beginning. The whole Bible is about Jesus. The whole Bible is about God and His plan of redemption. The story is revealed progressively and our very first glimpse of what Jesus would do is right there “in the beginning”. For our sin to be covered, blood had to be shed. God himself provided the covering for Adam and Eve through the shedding of blood for the first time ever. This is a picture of what God would do to cover the sin of all mankind through his son Jesus Christ. Isn’t that awesome?!

I recommend that you read all of Hebrews 9 if you really want to get a picture of God’s plan for redemption fulfilled in Christ Jesus as the perfect sacrifice. But for now I want to leave you with a verse in Hebrews that sums up so well what we have covered in this study. We have looked at what we were created to do…serve! We’ve studied the path to sin which led to the worst imaginable consequences, death and separation from God. And finally we learned that even as God dealt us the consequences, he spoke of the freedom he would provide from those consequences through his own son, Jesus Christ. Read Hebrews 9:14 and really let it sink in.

How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!

And just in case you wondered, one day we will have access to the tree of life again. Revelation 22:14 says, “Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city.”

Ahhhhhhh! I LOVE IT! The first book of the Bible speaks of the tree of life and so does the last! I hope you’ve heard from the Lord with me. I have so enjoyed digging into the history of Adam and Eve with you. And when I say “history” I mean His Story. I hope you have seen that these aren’t just children’s stories. Every bit of the Bible is for all God’s children and we will continue to discover together that every page has his son, Jesus, on it.

I welcome your suggestions on which children's Bible study to break down next. Let me know what you think!

Monday, February 14, 2011

I Got A Spatula For Valentine's Day

Yes, I said spatula.

We’ve been trying to eat healthier around here…lean meat, whole grains, no sugar, and lots of fish. And every time I put that tilapia, salmon, or grouper (if it’s on sale) in the pan to sear, I wish I had a fish spatula. Fish is so delicate and falls apart so easily. I usually end up with pieces rather than that perfect beautiful fillet. The kitchen gadget “powers that be” figured out that a long, slender, flexible spatula would do the trick. Now, a fish spatula is something you only ever think about when you’re cooking fish and it’s falling apart. What other occasion would you ever have to think of a fish spatula? So a couple of months ago, I got a "post it" note and wrote simply “fish spatula” and put it on the fridge. I figured maybe that would help me remember the next time I was headed to a mall or near a kitchen specialty store. But so far, no fish spatula. Just a frustrated glance at that "post it" note each time I make fish. Most of the time I kinda forget I put it up there.

So this morning while I was getting ready for work, I was summoned by my family to come out for a surprise. My husband and girls had packages and cards and yelled, “Happy Valentine’s Day!” First, I opened a new bead to add to my Pandora bracelet. Always a good easy choice for any gift giving occasion. (See, I actually got a Pandora catalog and circled all the beads I like so there was no guessing for the next several birthdays, Christmases, and such) But surprise, surprise, my next gift was this beautiful FISH SPATULA from Williams Sonoma! My husband had seen the note on the fridge, and after 13 years of marriage, quickly surmised that I was wishing for one. He tucked away the information for just the right occasion and WALLAH! The fact that he put some thought into it was what meant so much.

By the way ladies, once again, I beg you, tell your husband what you want for Valentine’s, Christmas, Birthday, Mother’s Day. It takes nothing away from the gift. It is a LIE to think that if you have to tell him what to get you, it’s not as good! Your husband will be happy because he knows you will be happy and hey…he still has to follow through and do it. Put it to the test. If you want pink tulips to arrive at the office for your birthday, be THAT specific. No "post it" on the fridge...come right out and tell him. That’s what I’ve done for years and guess what? I’m the happy camper who’s admiring her tulips when others wished their husbands were so thoughtful. Mine wasn’t… I TOLD HIM… and he gladly followed through! And the best part of all? After a while, he’ll get better at figuring out what you want and you won’t have to tell him all the time. And if you’re lucky, you may just find yourself next Valentine’s Day…holding a very special fish spatula.

Hmmm...maybe it's time to try a "post it" that says...diamond earrings? ;)

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Broken Families

Last time we learned that for all of mankind, sin meant death and separation from God. My daughter’s Bible simply puts it this way.

Sadly, he sent them out of the garden.

I’m still disappointed that this is all we tell our children. And that grownups rarely study the story in depth. Let’s look at the “big kid’s version” in your Bible again. Read Genesis 3:22-24

And the LORD God said, “The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever.” So the LORD God banished him from the Garden of Eden to work the ground from which he had been taken. After he drove the man out, he placed on the east side of the Garden of Eden cherubim and a flaming sword flashing back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life.

Before we move forward and get to the best part of the story, Jesus, I want to camp on this separation from God for a bit longer. It’s important to understand what was lost as best we can in order to understand the sacrifice that was made for us, the love God has for us, and what was gained on the cross through Christ. What I really want us to understand and consider is that when Adam and Eve were separated from God, they were separated from their father. Adam doesn’t call God “Father” directly in scripture but we know that was the relationship based on the whole of scripture. In Luke’s gospel, the genealogy of Jesus ends with “…Adam, the son of God”. When Adam was separated from his father, so was all of mankind. We are sinful and therefore separated from God our Heavenly Father.

Now let’s face it…the concept of God as our father is a struggle for many. Look at your relationship with your own father. Has it confused your view of God? Let me give you a personal example. My parents divorced when I was seven years old. When I was nine, my mom remarried a wonderful man and a year later, we moved 874 miles away from my dad. My stepdad has been an incredible father to me, but the fact remained that I was separated by divorce and by distance from my natural father. I struggle to this day with confusing my relationship with my earthly father with my relationship with my Heavenly Father. To be more specific, I tend to think of God as a father who I know loves me…but from a distance. A father who I know loves me but often wonder, “Does he know what’s going on with me?” Let me give you some other examples.

Was your father hard on you growing up, always demanding perfection?

Did your father dote on you as a child, always telling you how beautiful you are?

Was he too busy with “more important” things like work to have time for you?

Did your father attend every game or performance to cheer you on?

Can you see any way in which your relationship with your earthly father affects your view of God? How?

The world is full of sorry fathers that children have been separated from with no chance of reconciliation. Can I submit to you that this was Satan’s plan from the beginning? He was separated from God the Father permanently, so he sought to separate us from our Heavenly Father as well. In turn, he continues to make it his goal to separate children from their fathers in any and every way possible. If he can destroy your relationship with your earthly father, he can affect your view of your Heavenly Father.

You may not have the perfect relationship with your earthly father and there may be no chance of reconciliation BUT…NOT SO WITH YOUR HEAVENLY FATHER! We were separated from God the Father but His desire was to restore that relationship and only He could do it…and He did! It was in His plan from the beginning. If you haven’t seen Jesus in the story yet, and I bet you have, we’ll get really clear on it next time. That will be my final post on Adam and Eve so we’ll wrap things up then.

Meanwhile, consider how your relationship with your earthly father may be affecting your relationship with your Heavenly Father.