Saturday, March 19, 2016

My Shallow Thinking

Missed opportunities are all around us as adults, parents, and Christians. I almost missed mine a while back.

In my walk with Christ, I have learned to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit speaking to me, and the discernment God gives. (this has been tricky over the years…)

I once saw this saying on Facebook: Your greatest contribution to the Kingdom of God may not be something you do but someone YOU RAISE.

That struck a chord in me, reminding me how we raise our children matters more than what we can see with our natural eye. They are not only our next generation of political & social leaders, but our spiritual leaders, too.

I pondered what else could I do? Should I read the Proverbs to them twice a day? Should I take them to church more? But over time, trails, and tribulation I have discovered that the best lessons are learned by showing them how to be the “body of Christ.”

We can teach them, take them to church and let our pastors preach to them, Sunday school, youth trips, Christian music, read and pray over them, (and I encourage all of this for the recipe to be whole) but at the end of the day we have to get to a point where we see our tribulation as an opportunity.

It’s in these moments Paul the Apostle wrote 2 Corinthians 12:9 “And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my weakness, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”

In our weakness He is made strong…

I struggled for years to understand this verse, so I would just gloss over it, and move on to other scriptures I could somewhat understand.

But this verse…

How is he made strong in my weakness?

I’ll show you how in the past that became very true for me and my child.

This child owns an expensive piece of smart technology.

We had a friend of this child visiting with us, and they spent several nights with us over a short amount of time. I received a text from my child to say that this friend needed to go to our house and get their phone charger, and my child had given the friend a key to get in to retrieve the charger.

Immediately, I was quickened in my spirit that there were ulterior motives. (be sensitive to the spirit, discernment…)

I was taken back that I felt this way because I genuinely enjoy this child. But I hung onto the feeling and let my husband know what I was feeling and he met the child there, who was already leaving, and made sure the key was returned.

A week or so later my child realized the smart technology was missing. With other context clues in place, the decision was made to confront the friend and ask. This is hard. You never want to make accusations that are misplaced…it’s a delicate situation. The friend denied having the item. However, I was convinced they had it and my flesh was raging! I was WEAK in my flesh. I wanted to scream and yell at this child, I wanted to bash parents and make the biggest scene over my child being done wrong…but most of all I wanted my child’s item returned. I wanted to make them PAY for their wrong-doing…but I heard the Holy Spirit tell me to HUSH…be still!

As my child and I were headed home I was asked what our next step was.
Here’s my chance to put my faith into action: I shared that we would pray that God send the Holy Spirit to this friend to convict them for stealing IF they had stolen the item. And that is how we would “give it to God” and let him take care of the situation. “In my weakness HE is made strong…”

So we prayed.

The following day my child received an early morning text from the friend who was absolutely heartbroken about their actions. They confessed they had the item.

My child got a little hot-under-the-collar with the “friend” and sent me the text messages.

This is where God said, “Misty, lead your child to extend grace they way I have extended grace to you two. You didn‘t pay for your sin…Jesus did.”

I texted my child to say, “We are going to show them grace. When someone is sorry and apologizes we forgive them, and love them through it. Your friend is lost, and lost people do lost things. We prayed for Holy Ghost conviction and it came. Praise God.”

The next morning in my prayer time I was thanking God that my child’s item was being restored the them, because that’s all I could see…my child had something stolen and it was being returned after we prayed.

I was so shallow in my fleshly thinking…God said, “So much more have I given you both. I gave you the opportunity to show someone grace who has never experienced grace. I taught you both that I am who handles your problems, casts all your cares on me, be anxious for nothing, rest in me. I am the one who restores what was lost. I restored what the enemy was attempting to take: your child’s friendship. When there is strife, unity does not exist, and in unity is where my spirit flows, and my ways are higher than yours.”

I just wept…it wasn’t about my child’s stuff. It was about my child’s friendship…about our witness…about our growth in our own faith, and about God giving me the opportunity to TRAIN my child how to be the light in a dark world, and the door is still open/the friendship still exist/the bridge isn‘t burned so my child may still be the very one who will lead this person to Christ.

Thank you, God, that when I am weak you are strong, and you order my steps.

“These things I have spoken unto you, that in Me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation, but be of good cheer: I have overcome the world,” John 16:33

Friday, March 18, 2016

Words Are My Favorite

I don't ever remember fantasizing about being a mom. I had baby dolls when the Cabbage Patch Kids frenzy came along, and remember well my preemie named Ashley. My middle girl still has her.

But being a mom in real life wasn't even on my mind. Maybe because I had a baby sister at 13.

But never a mom in real life.

God gave me three babies by the time I was month before turning 24.

Surprisingly, I never received a manual on how to raise them. So we headed full force into parenting with nothing...not even a helmet.

Eventually, the tantrums came, the potty training was easier with each child, and I began to craft plans for what I wanted them to know, learn, practice in life. As they grew, I grew. God showing me, guiding me, and protecting me as their mother...and most of all, blessing me.

My 40th birthday came with a world wind, and I covered most of it in a blog yesterday, but there were a few things my children gifted me that I can not miss an opportunity to journal in this dairy of mine. 

The middle girl has dealt with fear and anxiety most of her life. I always have said if I die you better send Mallory on with me because she will not make it without me. With this preface, she burst through my bedroom door the morning of my birthday, waking Jason and I, and said, "Happy Birthday, mom! I have worried about this day my entire life; the day you got old. I always thought 40 was the day someone turned old, and then you would be close to dying, and I would do the math to see how old I would be on this day and I knew I would be 17, so I would tell myself that surely I would be old enough to handle the day you got old. But here we are, on the day I've dreaded my entire life and you not even old at all!"

I'm not exaggerating! At! All!

Later that day she had sweet words to boast on my facebook page. She's the funniest...I adore her wittiness, her boldness, her fabulous memory, and her ability to overcome! She's never failed to tell me when she's aggravated with me, but always reminds me how much she needs me and loves me!

The eldest daughter, who never speaks aloud, however, we learned she raps but we've rarely heard her speak, blessed my soul on the day I "got old." She was away at school but found time to write me a sweet birthday sentiment. My heart gushed...She's never really told me what she thought about my parenting style, skill (or lack thereof), and example for her. It's that precious moment when your children grow up and start becoming your friend, and with maturity begin to speak into your life the way you've always tried to speak into theirs.

The boy laid down beside me and hugged my face, telling me happy birthday, and how much he loved me. He texted me later in the evening to ask me if I were having fun. How telling that he cares if I am enjoying my time away. This boy...THE boy.

I'm not sure I would have chosen to even have children, but I am so thankful that His ways are higher than mine. They saved my life, and now they bless me daily.

The husband spent time creating a box of memories for me. There were several cd's full of music that mean something to he and I, movies, and other objects that only he and I understand the meanings behind. But he created a binder for me full of photos, memories, and a letter he wrote me - which are my favorite - words are my favorite!

In other Thomas family business:

This how the eldest girl and I communicate:

I accidentally sent her a text message meant for the husband. I'm still belly laughing!
(That's really not our cat)

My constant words of warning to my children: Don't take The Pot!

Words are my favorite!

Oh yes, Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Here we go...40!

I've given it 18 days to see if it would take...being 40 was a number I wasn't too interested in labeling myself. However, in these past 18 days I've decided to stay. I like this side of life; who knew?

I awakened the Saturday morning of my birthday with a weird stomachache & headache, and I spoke-out from my bed, "Lord, if this is 40 I'm begging you now to take me back to 39!" I learned three days later what my weirdness was, and I'll share with you later in the blog, but first, the good stuff! We'll save the poison for last...

I was told to be ready by 10:00 a.m. with a bag packed. Well, that sounds fun! I'm all about a night away!

When the Honey got me in his truck, he made a left-turn in our subdivision instead of right, which is the turn to the main road. I didn't ask any questions, but in about 10 seconds we were pulling into my sister's driveway where I saw her and her honey loading their packed bags! Yippy! Company!

I have six sisters, yes - that is correct, and it's not often that we can all be together, not even more than two or three of us at a time; it was a thrill for me to have three of them with me for the weekend! We picked up the last two in my baby sister's hometown, and then we headed to Nashville!

Carsick with my weird new 40-is-trying-to-kill-me-funk, we made our way to Franklin, TN to dine at The Boat House before heading over to one of those break-out games.

Now please understand that I have six sisters who are all very being the least formally educated, least talented, number 5 in the pecking order, 7 for all other purposes. Their husbands are equally equipped with intellect!

The object of these games are to be locked inside a room full of puzzles that you must solve to "break-out" within an hour. So let's take a look at our cast of characters locked in this room called "Casino Royal."

Amy: Computer Information System's major, baker extraordinaire, mother of two little boys (puzzles are a must), Alpha Child (there's one in every family- she's ours)

Joe: Husband of Amy, Mechanical Engineer, General Manager of rather large local industry, boy scout through-and-through, runner, and our family's quiet thinker

Buffy: Computer Information System's major, mother of 3 little girls, baby of the family for 12 years, the sweetest of us all, and her house is always clean & she never loses her temper (those are qualifications that deserve to be on this resume)

Ernie: Buffy's husband, Finance & Business major, stock market guru, antique lover, antique clock restorer, and works as our county's Emergency Manager Director (the kind of guy you want on your side)

Kylee: Biology/Chemistry major, baby #2 of the family, still in her 20's (that matters when you are traveling w/40 somethings, she speaks slang we are unaware exists), waitress while finishing her Nurse Practitioner degree, and just plan cute (it mattered in case we got pulled over in our minivan - we were sending her to be our spokesperson)

Jason: My husband, Entrepreneur, Majored in CASINO GAMBLING in college I'm quite sure, quick witted, strong, highly intelligent in many, many things, obsessed with forensic files and I.D. Channel, owns and operates two separate businesses

Me: 40...

Please stop here and equate the money spent on education just in this one room.

We didn't get out.

I know. I know. I blame 40, too.

However, we had a great time, and we were reminded how competitive we are.

The Honey booked us a suite at the Opryland Gaylord Hotel, where I had never stayed - once attended a swanky New Year's Eve party there that was overpriced - but never an overnight guest. It was lovely, and I would have been happy to stay there playing board games all night, however, we had dinner plans in the hotel at Old Hickory Steakhouse. Thank you Amy & Joe! I would highly recommend this place, it's worth the penny you'll spend.

Running late, we bolted to the Grand Ole Opry, another place I had never shadowed the door. I loved this variety show, and was pleased to experience new faces of music, and those of day's past. But I think our favorite, just for the simple reason we had two of his eight-track tapes as little girls, was Ray Stevens. Even though we didn't get to sing in unison to Gitarzan, or about the ring's, bell's, and bones that decorated Fatima for Ahab the Arab, we were reminded that Everything is Beautiful. And with due respect, we serenaded our husbands with these songs later in the evening. So far, no divorce papers have been served.

The next morning found most of us lined up at the breakfast buffet, thanks Buffy & Ernie! Stuffed to the brim, we made our journey home where my mama had ice cream cake and pizza ready for me. What a sweet, sweet ending to a fabulous weekend.

I'm learning on this side of 40 that my sister's are my favorite people to be with. I have some of the most amazing friends in the world, God has laid abundant blessings upon me, and my sister's surely top the list. They made 40 the best yet!

In these past 18 days I have been overwhelmed with experiences that God has allow me to partake of. I spent two days at the Church of God Women's Conference in Lexington. I have never been, and really haven't spent much time with this denomination growing up, but one of my besties grew up in this particular denomination and has begged me for years to attend. I'm saddened that I have not heeded her call before this year. Holy Ghost filled people...that would solve the world's problems. Seriously... What I experienced was an anointing I had never seen, a new place in God's glory that he allowed me to experience and I cannot thank him enough. It moved me deeper into who he is, and since then my worship, my prayer life, and my commitment to him is different.

The following weekend I spent in Gatlinburg with my boy at his cheer competition. We spent two days in the mountains, got there late Friday night to a room with bugs so we checked out and found another hotel. However, we walked in favor all weekend. Our rental was upgraded from a small compact car to a minivan at no extra charge, my hotel fees were refunded by Expedia (which never happens), we were almost hit three times - like, total the car kind of hit - but only near-misses. I rode down with a cheer mom who I didn't really know, and came back with a new friend. My husband also walked in favor while staying home. He scored a free ticket to the UK game Friday and had time to catch up with an old friend, and ended up coming into $700 out of thin air, which just so happened to be about what the Boy and I had spent. (I refer you back to his major in college) There were several more but I'll just list these few.

So onto how I poisoned myself. My weird burning belly, and headaches continued for days and then I finally realized I was putting way to much apple cider vinegar in my Good Girl Moonshine, which is a non-alcoholic drink on the Trim Healthy Mama diet plan. I was attempting to curb my love for soda. I misread the amount for the recipe: the 1 - 2 tablespoons turned into 6 tablespoons in my drink...because I decided my Yeti cup was soooo big that I would make ahead and sip all day. Therefore, I thought I should triple the recipe. I literally scalded my stomach and digestive tract. It's taken almost three weeks to heal...DO NOT drink more than 2 tablespoons a day...

Moral of this blog: Read the recipe twice, be thankful for your family, and if you know Jesus seek an outpouring of the Holy Ghost so you can walk empowered. If I could gift you anything after salvation it would be that...

Acts 1:8King James Version (KJV)
8 But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.

Photo outtakes:

He kept photo bombing my pics! 

I must also give mad props to my radio crew!  Christy always makes the best birthday buffet, Brittany comes to bat with the most unique gifts, and Mark always has birthday music ready on que, and says something nice about me. *smiles