Wednesday, April 23, 2014

On Writing and All Hell Breaking Loose

First of all, thank you to all who went out to Downtown Jacksonville's One Spark Festival
The artist, Scott Morphew, who featured a piece for Adam placed 26th out of over 600 entries.
That is pretty amazing


So, honesty, it is a good policy. That is what they say;)
And I have come to treasure transparency and honesty more and more with each day that passes in this life.
So I wanted to share a few things I have learned since starting this "series", of sorts, on Prayer.
Thus far I have shared prayer maps (my version of, that is) on how I am learning (very slowly) to pray for my boys.
First, my prayer guide in praying for a Child with a Diagnosis
Second, my prayer guide in praying for the Wild Ones;)
And certainly, Scriptures from each "map" or "list" can be shared between the two;)

I have been so encouraged by each of your responses, via email, about this series.
I have also been surprised with how many express appreciation for it, despite the varying seasons of life you are currently in.
I am grateful that so many of us are seeking His face and asking Him what his closest 12, on earth, even felt the need to ask
"Lord, teach us to pray"

Can I just say, how thankful I am that one of those 12 had the courage, or should I say humility (or is it just the audacity?!) to ask.
I am sure the other disciples were all maybe thinking about it but probably second guessing how others would perceive them (gasp) or what Jesus would say in response.

But one of them was desperate.

I do believe that is it.
One of them was desperate enough, hungry enough, to learn how to communicate with this Divinity
This Divinity who was on High, yet walking with them, in flesh, on earth
And so he asked
And how thankful I am.

So, considering how many of you have loved these posts on learning to pray...
And considering how many of you encouraged me and applauded me in the journey I am making thru motherhood (at least what I publish on Cyberspace of my journey;) )
I thought I should be a bit transparent with you guys in how God is working on my heart while I fail in this.
"Fail in what?" you ask.
Well in motherhood, and specifically, in walking out those prayer maps.
Because, let's be honest,
Philip Yancey's words ring true way to often for this momma...

"When I write about what I believe and how I should live, it sounds neat and orderly.
When I try to live it out, all hell breaks loose" -Yancey

Those are true words, my dear.
Because the very night after I wrote THIS POST about my Elliot, I had an opportunity to give him grace and to see the beauty in raising a wild, wonder struck one as he...
And I didn't
Let me set the scene for you.
The summer heat is setting in here in India.
And word on the street is that monsoon rains are predicted to arrive later than usual
So that is foreshadowing a long, hot summer can have a bizarre effect on a pregnant mom of two young ones
And it can make little boys just a bit zany
And this poor dad who plays doctor by day, and every other title by night...
He has to deal with us 3 (well, 4) bizarre and zany ones in the evenings
Adam definitely favors his dad these days and Elliot has been in a season of literally being my shadow.
Really, there is no Jessica and Elliot...we are one and the same
It is pretty precious and I have wondered how it will evolve over the years...

But recently, Elliot has started to adore every step his dad takes.
They actual have a dance that Elliot created every time he sees Raja...
It is pretty much a sacred exchange between the two of them and it makes me laugh every time

It has been neat to see Elliot fall into this new adoration of his dad
It nearly takes my breath away, to be honest.

So, one day, after I wrote out that nice, tidy list on how to pray for that boy...
Those prayers to be the foundation of how I raise him...
I had the chance to walk it out.

Elliot and Raja had been organizing a book shelf for about 2 hours when 645pm came to pass

How they maintained such focus for 2 hours, I am not sure, as we were all sweating and could hardly hear each other as all the fans in the house are swirling trying to drown out the heat

I called Elliot for his bath by 646, for bedtime IS SEVEN!
He came, we got ready for bed, and he laid his head down on my shoulder.
As we went to walk to his room, he spotted Raja finishing up the bookshelf and nearlyjumped from my arms
Raja gently said "sweety, I think he wants to help me finish this...I am almost done"
And, to be honest, the words that came out of my mouth were something like
"He needs to know his boundaries and 7 is his bedtime...we can't let him beat us in this battle or else he will think he runs the show..."
Yea. I know. Roll your eyes at me now...
But in that moment, I could have justified that remark all day long
Raja just went back to his work quietly as I went and sang a few songs and put Elliot to bed

A few hours later, conviction really set in
I am not sure how it came but it did

Really, Jess?

Here is a little boy falling in love with his father, desiring to sit by his side and help him...
And you have to pull out the rule book?
You want to cultivate a heart that responds to the GRACE of God above, rather than do's and don'ts of a fear to obey God, right?
Yet in a moment where your son is expressing a desire to sit up 10 minutes past his bedtime to be with HIS deny for the sake of rules and order.

I specifically thought of this in my list of Scriptures guiding me in praying for Elliot:

>As he learns of You at a young age in the routine ways of devotions and church gatherings, may you open his eyes to create a yearning to know the meaning behind it.  I pray against legalism or an empty sense of duty. May the same wonder he has for your creative splendor outdoors, transcend into his time learning the Words of you.

"Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in your Law" (Psalm 119.18)  (also see: Isaiah 65.1)

This little one is blessed to have an earthly father that adores him and loves him deeply, in a world where many young boys are lacking such.
His earthly father was inviting him to participate in life with him
Just a 15 minute task that would have made Elliot's heart soar...
But I got caught up in rules and order and tiredness

How I want to keep that from happening again
Not so that I can be seen as a mom who balances grace and discipline perfectly

But so that my children will see an earthly reflection of their Father in heaven.
The One who said "let the little children COME" when all the others wanted to enforce otherwise

Certainly, there is a time for rules and bedtime is a GOOD thing
But this was a little blip on the stretch of eternity's screen that could have been used to foster love in that little one's heart just a little more.

How I am thankful that His blood covers me and His voice that is
"slow to anger and abounding in STEADFAST LOVE" can trump mine any day
And how I pray that my heart can continue to be transformed on this journey into prayer.
How I rejoice in knowing that our God will still wildly pursue my Elliot, even when I mess up again

But that night, I learned that sometimes, our little ones just need a few extra minutes
Let us give them grace in those minutes.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

From the lips of children and infants... (a video)

So I sometimes find myself not writing on here because I imagine this blog needs to be something really elaborate and thought provoking and long (I know, I know, you probably would love shorter posts)

I find myself writing out random thoughts throughout my days
Gradually, over a few days, I construct thoughts, and eventually a "jessica-approved" post is published in my mind.

Then it takes me about 4 days to have time to write it

Then I post it and 2 weeks go by before I post again.

(Not that I need to post more than that and there is surely no standard to match up to here)

But today, I was reading in Psalm 8

"From the lips of children and infants
You have ordained praise...

"Boom. Baby."
(reference from The Emperor's New Groove...a movie which my best friend from 2nd grade, Liz, and my brother, Josh, are probably the only 2 aware of or finding humor in such a ridiculous reference...)

But really.


It not about word flow or word count.
It is not about how often I write.
It is not about whether my timbre of prose creates the ambiance and affection I am looking for.
Because it is not about me.
It is about Him.
And He ordains praise from children and infants.
He, Who said "let the children come to me", when his 12 besties deemed them burdensome.
He, Who takes the things that are not, to nullify the things that are.
He, Who takes foolish things to shame the wise.

And that video up there which I opened this post with for you...
Dear one, that is praise for me this Sabbath.
A picture of the Father's heart, in the life of my husband.
Cuddling his two boys.
One of the boys, a token of health
The other, daily in battle of some sort, rather it be a new skin rash or a dry trach or a severe infection
Yet both are equal on their father's lap
And both are reveling in the affection he is giving them
Both are laughing a deep belly shaking laughter.
It does not matter that one once did not have a mouth and now has the most beautiful dimples in all the land
They see each other as brothers and are thoroughly enjoying the affection a father and the delight of seeing the other be tickled and giggling until they lose control

Dear ones, that is Praise this morning
Through the mouths of these two children of mine
I see a Creator's hands
A God Who works in ways far beyond me
A Father Who delights in ordaining praise from the littlest and the least qualified, in our temporal eyes.

And all of that?
To SILENCE the avenger
The avenger who questions the beginning of life
The avenger who dares look at one, unformed, and question his need to live
The avenger who limits the power of a Divine One who makes us in His image
That avenger is silenced when children who should not be alive, praise Him thru laughter
That avenger is silenced when children, fully formed physically, look at a child who looks different on the outside...and see right past it
That avenger is silenced when life and laughter and childhood are celebrated and reveled in

Let this God man, who designed such tactics of receiving praise
Be praised.
Forever and ever amen.


If you are on EST and in the Jacksonville, Florida area...
Today is the last day to visit One Spark Jax and vote for our boy, Adam;)

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Lessons from Adam

Before I get yesterday's post and if you are in the Jax area...

I have learned things from our Adam that will surely echo in my heart and mind forevermore.
His life in itself is a miracle and a gift.
His laughter, I am sure, makes "the trees of the field clap their hands", as Isaiah wrote.
He has overcome some major battles and yet still he laughs.
It takes time to learn how to interact with Adam, of that I am becoming more aware.
Often times, I think people feel intimidated or hesitant on how to interact with him.
I think it comes down to being calm, gentle, and funny with him.
He loves funny voices and being tickled.
And he knows when he is safe in arms that are confident to hold him.
He is certainly a bit picky in who he goes to, which may be his age or it may be him.
Only time will tell;)
But I do hope that you get the chance to hold and cuddle him at one point.
Because BOY is it grand.
Until then, I thought I'd share a few lessons from life with Adam thus far;)

1.  Laugh whenever laughter comes. Don't feel restrained, nor compelled, by the environment. Don't laugh only when it is expected of you or asked of you by voices around. Just laugh when you feel tickled about something that merits laughter;) Especially at night, when you find that sleep is not coming...just throw your hands up in the air and laugh...for you have shown me that is the language of heaven;)

CHECK OUT those dimples!

2. When life is tough and you are tired, find a soft pillow near by and collapse on it;) Everyone needs a soft pillow decorated in extravagant designs of splendor to be studied in detail and appreciated again and again. No shame and no need to call it "extravagance";) And if possible, your pillow should be life size to can lay across it and feel as if you are on the clouds. That is how Adam rests and calms himself. And I think that would be quite therapeutic for us too;)

3. Swing all day, every day. Whether it is a tire swing or a hammock swing or whatever it may be...swing and swing high and swing all the day long. It is good for the soul.

4. You can never be on a bicycle for too long. It is good for the mind, body, and soul;)

5. Study color and detail intricately in all things.

6. Give high fives often and generously. Don't hold back.

7. "Do what you mean and mean what you do";) (My mom, Adam's "mimi" always says "say what you mean. mean what you say"). Adam does not say anything much yet, but you KNOW what he means by what he does. And what he means he really means. He does not care what response is wanted of him. He may not be speaking his mind yet, but he is "doing his mind". And from a woman who has struggled with people pleasing much of her life, I like seeing that in my son;) Though it can be called stubbornness and I pray grace softens its rough edges over the years...I think it can be a very strong trait to have as well;)

8. Music heals the soul and can never be listened to long enough or loud enough;)

9. Surround yourself with lights of all kinds (especially twinkle lights) all day every day. Seasons of decoration come and go, but you should never limit the amount of twinkle lights in your life;)

10. Live in the moment of NOW. Do not worry about tomorrow.