I was sitting in my car at Walgreens in front of a Red Box waiting for my sons to decide on a movie. While I was waiting, the owner of a car parked next to me ran to her car from the store, jumped behind the wheel, smiled at me, sat there for a a little while doing something on her phone, then drove away. A few moments later, another car drove up. The driver got out, also smiled at me, went in the store, and quickly came out.
Seeing that parking space and all the other spaces become empty then quickly become occupied with a new driver…in…out…in…out…made me think of people I loved and lost in general and people the world loved and lost in 2016, specifically. They were born, they made a seemingly brief connection with their loved ones and strangers (much like the brief smile to me of each new occupant), they died, and somewhere a child was born filling the gap in the universe left by their departure or another person in some way came to fill the gap left by them.
People talk about the numerous stars who died in 2016, and there was even a running joke of our protecting stars still living by encasing them in some human bubble of protection, but in the end, those who died did what they were born to do–then left, leaving the world much different than how it was before they were born. They made an indelible impact!
So, as one who has hope in God’s purposefulness for each individual’s cycle of life, I just want to encourage you going into 2017.
Your space is still occupied. You are still able to connect with others and complete your indelible mark–even if that mark is just on a few people in your neighborhood, one person on your job, or one member of your family. 2017 is another opportunity God has graced you with to be who you were created to be–not who others think you should be or who you believe you ought to be because of others’ perceptions of you.
Be you. And, that’s enough.
I set my son free today.
I wasn’t prepared for what happened before I set him free, but there I was with it up close and personal. My 7 YO son had developed stereotypes despite my good intentions of shielding him from them. What I apparently failed to realize was I was shielding him from being the recipient of negative stereotypes but not the harborer of them. What’s worse is that his stereotypes were forming against young chocolatey brown young men that looked like HIM…and that just could never be! Here’s how it went down:
Hudson (looking out the upstairs window onto the neighboring house below) : Mommy, I think there’s some boys up to no good. You should come see this.
Me (knowing the rarity of that happening in our neighborhood): Huh? In the back?
Hudson: Yeah. Come see.
Me (now standing beside him looking out the window): Do you mean those boys right there?
Me: Those boys playing basketball in their backyard?
Hudson: Uh huh.
Me (in shock and immediately saddened): Hudson, what about those boys look like they’re up to no good to you?
Hudson: (shrugs). They just seem like it. That boy (pointing) was down low a minute ago.
Me (trying to figure out if I’m talking to a crotchety old man and not my little boy): Hudson, do you feel that way because they’re brown? Remember we talked about this a few weeks ago when you said that the brown gentleman jogging looked like a thug running from the police but said nothing about the white gentleman jogging a block beyond him. So, let’s examine the situation because they’re a lot of people who feel like you do about brown boys for no reason. And, you’re one of those brown boys they feel that way about, so let’s examine what you see to see if it’s grounded in truth. Let’s watch them for a minute.
Hudson: (listening and looking intently)
Me: Now, see, there are about six of them and they’re playing basketball. Look at how they’re moving. They are really playing a game of basketball. Look. That young man you said was down low is low again. Look what he has in his hands since he’s standing up straight. It’s the ball, right? He was probably dribbling. Do you see any of them looking around like they’re trying to look out for the police? Nope. They’re genuinely passing the ball to one another. Now, where are they?
Hudson: In a backyard. But how do you know they’re not sneaking in the backyard and trying to do something?
Me: That’s a great question! Look, the gate is open. What do you see just outside the gate in the driveway?
Me: Excellent! You see two cars. Generally, bad people don’t break in when someone’s home because the people inside could call the police. Now, what do you notice about the fence?
Hudson: It’s open.
Me: Exactly! It’s wide open like they have nothing to hide. Now look again at the boys now that you’ve looked all around at the whole scene. What do you see?
Hudson (in tears): They just look like they’re playing basketball.
Me: Exactly! Why are you in tears?
Hudson: Because you sound mad at me and that I thought that about them.
Me: I’m not mad at you baby. I’m just using this moment to teach you to examine the facts surrounding what you see because sometimes what we see is clouded by how we feel. God wants us to walk in truth. And baby, you’re my beautiful little chocolatey deliciousness. God made you and those boys playing basketball in his image. Unless you see otherwise, don’t think brown means bad. Ok?
Hud: (hugs me tightly through tears) I love you, mommy!
Me: I love you too, baby.
Then, he went off to play and his mommy went to her room and bawled crocodile tears about how she’s a failure as a parent that she didn’t catch that her son is embracing the racist manifesto. And, after she cried over that, she cried some more over whether he was having identity or self-esteem issues, whether if not seeing enough brown boys on t.v. is negatively affecting her son, whether she’s doing all she needed to do as a mom, and every other hyperbolic fear she could muster…
But, then she remembered what she had JUST told her son about not assuming the worst and walking in truth, and went and made lunch while her totally ok son played upstairs with his equally ok brother.
“Then you shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free.” John 8:32
Jacob had a dream of a pie. Seriously. He really did. So we made it.
Ok. So, here’s my plan. I want my boys to cook…correction…to LOVE cooking and cook the family meals by the time they’re 11. As Jacob is 10.5 now, I don’t think I’m on schedule, but at least they enjoy cooking! I got that part down! 🙂
So, when your child tells you they had a dream about a recipe they want to try, you appease them.
No. He’s never baked a pie. No. He’s never had a fond interest for baking, but he had a dream, and we made it. AND, it was soooo good. So, we named it the “Dream Pie.” Yeah, not too creative, but it works! HA!
We tried it the first time as small tarts, which was a hit at our family dinner (the one time when as many cousins, nieces and nephews, significant others and sibs mesh their schedules and break bread together)! So, Jacob wanted to expand it to a (his words) “real pie.”
OMG!!! So yummy!!
Try it with your kiddos! Well, scratch that. Just asked Jacob and he doesn’t want to reveal his secret recipe. 🙂 But, he’s ok with me sharing the pics…
I don’t know if other parents do this, but I limit my boys’ “electronic time” (what it’s called in our house). I limit it because I think children should have time to be alone with their thoughts and to explore the limitless possibilities of their imagination. So, my boys are required to have “imagination time.” Unbeknownst to them, I love when they say they’re bored because I know a whole lotta creatin’ is about to go down!
One such time was last weekend. The boys had to end “electronic time” and begin “imagination time.” Boy were they mad! Ha! Especially since they were trying out a fairly new Wii U game. Eventually (as they saw mama didn’t care) the pouting and “I’m bored!” yelps turned into productivity.
They soon realized Hudson, my youngest, who had just had a birthday a few weeks ago, had a few gifts he hadn’t opened. One such gift was a Crayola Marker Maker. This thing is wonderful! They were so into creating different colors! They let me name one (Oceanwater) and even made a special one for me (Purple Magic)! You can find the Crayola Marker Maker here!
So, the next time your kid’s say they’re bored, get excited! And, DON’T give in to the pouting. You’ll be pleasantly surprised by what they create!
What are some creative things your children have done when bored? We could all use some suggestions. 🙂
***This post contains affiliate links! But, it’s stuff I’ve really used. Thanks for your support!***
Aren’t you glad God is so patient?
And you know why? Because he sees before the now, beyond the now, and in spite of the now. He sees us through the lens of eternity. He knows who came before us to bring us about, and he knows who will come after us that we bring about. So, he patiently waits for us to wade through all the muck of our poor decisions until we mature into his awareness.
Take me for example. I mean, only a patient God could endure my sporadic tears of crying out in my 20’s to be married and have a family–knowing in several years, in my 30’s, I would be crying out within a loveless and debilitating marriage.
Only a patient God could endure my tears of loneliness as a young, single professional (again, in my 20’s)–knowing in a few years (my 40’s) I would be crying out for “me time” during this season of parenting alone after my divorce.
Only a patient God could endure my tears (this time in my 20’s and 30’s) of desiring to be a mommy to my own children and not just to my nieces and nephews or the students in my stead–knowing in a few years (my early 40’s) I would be crying out for patience, strength, endurance, wisdom, and solitude as I rear and guide my sweet boys to His purpose for their lives.
Only a patient God could endure my tears of frustration as a young professional (in my 30’s) with two jobs (teaching and tutoring) while working on my Master’s degree–knowing in a few years (my 40’s) I would lose everything within my marriage and subsequent divorce and have to rebuild my life using the very skills and trainings received from those positions and that degree I had so often cried out to him about.
I could go on and on. But, what I want your takeaway from all this to be is NOT that I was an apparent crybaby (jeez!), but that God’s patience is long-suffering and His love is eternal. He often doesn’t take away the pain because we live in such a fallen world, but He does refresh us with his grace, which often displays itself in the sweetest ways like kindness from a complete stranger or the softness and peace of a beautiful sunrise!
So, be encouraged!
TRUST! No matter what season you’re in, God is putting together that masterpiece that is your life–one…puzzle piece…at a time…which, when he is done, will simply be a beautiful image of himself.
Last spring, the boys and I found a recipe for ice cream using only frozen bananas that we could not believe. You literally just chop frozen bananas until they become creamy. We tried it and were so surprised! It was delicious!
This is our 2nd go with a few more ingredients added–melted chocolate and strawberries with a little honey. Sooooo good and easy! Even little ones can help make this. You really just freeze some bananas, cut them up in a food processor until they get creamy (it will be clumpy at first, but let the food processor keep going until creamy), and enjoy!
Feel free to experiment with different add ins! YUM!