Step Aerobics

I love step aerobics.

Don’t judge me, I know its a early 90’s way to exercise but it has always been one of my favorites. I like how challenging the choreography can be and I like how high impact the exercise is. I really love how quickly an hour flies by.

Today, I took my seventeen year old, Josie, with me. When we walked in the instructor excitedly thanked me for bringing a friend. She told my “friend” that I was one of the best steppers in the class. She found out it was her first time ever stepping and gave her encouragement, “If you get lost you just go back to the basic step”.

That last bit of direction proved unnecessary. Josie has been taking ballet and performing since she turned 4 years old. Hearing choreography directions shouted over loud music is a normal experience for her. For her first time stepping she rocked it. Her kicks up to her ears and even adding in choreography to challenge the moves and increase the workout level. Exercising to her left I maintained my usual pace but had to keep my eyes on the instructor since Jo seemed to know how to alter the moves and make them look good.

By the end of class I had been dethroned as the best stepper.

I love that my daughters are growing up to be my friends. I love that I got the chance to pour into their lives, educate & encourage them and now I watch as they surpass me at so many things. I can’t help but feel it is a way God blesses my life, getting to watch them soar, while stepping at my own pace right beside them.

Learning to Run

We didn’t make it easy on her but how could I know all that God would squeeze into three short months.

Grammie planted the idea. She went on a Summer Adventure and her Grammie, whose always listening, always reading for new wisdom to deliver to her sons, their spouses and of course those beloved grand babes. Well she heard about it and then heard about a book written by a sweet girl who made it to Nationals.

Grammie bought the book and Girlie #2 devoured it. Home but a day when she finished  the read and came in my office late to find me on the website. She wanted to do it. I was  frantically researching what it entailed. What does it require of her, me, the family. We had to make a rush decision because we just happened to be on the site the last day of registration. Not only the last day but within hours of closing on the last day. I paid the $30 entrance fee and Girlie #2 became a contestant in the Junior Division of the National Bible Bee.

It’s designed as a Family Discipleship. The entire family works through a book of the Bible. The contestants have a stack of 250 Bible verses to memorize. I had grand plans to sit around the table studying God’s word, instead we encouraged her in the airport while we waited for our plane to the Dominican Republic. She dutifully lugged her study material, Strong’s Concordance and that big stack of verses all over that tiny island,  but still she fell behind and I felt like I let her fall. Then we arrived home with plans to catch up.

Instead we had to pack boxes and load trucks and find a new place to dwell. I worked hours learning a new job when I wanted to be drilling her on verses We all encouraged her and she gasped at the work load but continued to press on.

In our new abode, boxes piled everywhere, school started and unexpectedly her beloved Papa is admitted into the hospital. Focus is shifted, loved ones are cared for and that little Girlie runs so hard to keep up. When Papa’s hospital stay goes from days to weeks she tells me in tears how far she is lagging in her run. How can I help her run this race?

She decides if she sits at his side, next to him in the hospital room she can work the lessons of 1 Peter and maybe she can catch up. So she does. For days I drop my sweet 10 year old daughter at MD Andersen Cancer Center. She hefts that pink camouflage backpack up the elevator. The straps are begining to give way to the overload of weight in the form of John Gills writings, Strongs’s Concordance and her bulky Sword Study binder. She sits at the side of her ailing Grandfather and delves into God’s word.  There is a guilt over not holding her hand more as she runs, but I am brought to tears at the image of my girl studying in the presence of her heavenly Father as she gently, lovingly sits at her Grandfather’s side.

The date of the local bee arrives. She is nervous, It has arrived too quickly. We all go to cheer her on. Up at 6 a.m. to make it to the competition on time. Her heart is racing but her presence is that of peace. I’m already so proud.

First up the written test. The competitiors head to the testing room. We wait, for an hour, biting my nails and praying and she returns with sad news. She didn’t realize there was a second side and took too long on the first side. She ran out of time and that meant 30 questions unanswered. Her shoulders slumped a bit. The Man and I encouraged, reminded we are so proud, no matter the outcome.

On to the oral test. 10 minutes, 25 verses randomly chosen from the stack of 250. The Man and I follow her into the room sitting in  the back. The time starts and I watch her shoulders fall as she says, “Pass, Pass, Pass” to verse after verse. One judge pulls her baseball cap down over her eyes, she cannot look at the crestfallen competitor. I understand her body language, it speaks of right before the tears begin to fall. I can hear the quiver in my girl’s voice. I’m praying hard. My girl’s stumbling to the finish line and all I can do is ask the Holy Spirit to carry her the final steps in this race she’s chosen to run.

She recites a couple verses but as soon as the time is up her body collapses into a full slump. The tears flow. She ran her heart out, she is disappointed with how she finished. The Man and I envelope her. Our hearts break at the sound of her sobs and even the judges tears are flowing.

I take her into the ladies room and I remind her, remind her of the eternal verses earthly. We pray. The Holy Spirit gives me words beyond my own understanding and she is comforted, but still disappointed. She wished she did more, regrets of how she spent her time My heart is exploding with pride over this girl and her race. She wipes up her face, puts on a smile and heads to the waiting room to play checkers with the other competitiors/newfound friends.

All the staff disappears to tally scores. We fellowship with the families present, enjoying sandwhiches and ice cream. Her tears are forgotten. All the competitors sit together to hear the outcome of this amazing race. They start with the Senior Division. Girlie #2 claps and cheers for the sole competitior. Now the scores of the Junior Division. The announcer is looking at her list. She starts with First Place. The name she calls is familiar, I am in shock, The Man is in shock but the oldest sister is cheering and our Girlie #2 sits stunned.

“Me, did you call me?” she points to herself.

All present had seen the tears, all present were excited, applauding. It seems, though she missed those last 30 questions, she scored almost perfect on her written test. Time spent in a hospital at the side of one she loved had been blessed. The Holy Spirit granted wisdom and knowledge when she asked for it. She won First Place. Her sweet, humble little heart took my breath away.

Now, we wait, wait for three days to see if her scores are enough to earn a spot competing in Nashville, Tennessee on the National level. She would love one of those spots but either way she has learned how to run, not looking to the left or right but just dead on, running only for an eternal prize.

I’m so proud of my Girl!

Numberless Counting since I packed my Gratitude Journal:

Grateful to watch my children run races and get to help them run well.

Friends who bring me silly candies that make me laugh til I cry.

Children growing in their love for their God.

The Man shoulders stand square and his burden is less.

Broken Ballerina

Just a game of chase. We enjoyed the company of adults and kids swarmed around all the local yards. The Man commented on the game of tag being played barefoot. All the parents spoke of their frustration regarding their Florida kids and their forever absent shoes. We were just moving onto a new topic when she hobbled around the corner. She told us that while in full stride through the thick St. Augustine grass she heard a snap, she can’t put any weight on it. With no swelling or bruising we gave it the night.

X-rays showed a clean break. Sitting in the Podiatrist’s office, so poised in the chair, so grown up, but in my heart, in my eyes fragile and broken and I wanted her protected and safe. The mini ER we took her to over the week-end gave her a small shoe to wear. Every time she moved while wearing it my skin crawled. The damaged areas just weren’t properly protected. The Doctor wanted to cast it. Cast today means a complicated piece of plastic and felt with air chambers and pumps like an old pair of Nike Airs. This cast had directions we should take home and learn. I loved it. My broken ballerina now had proper protection. Now, just take the rest of her and wrap it up in bubble wrap and then swaddle her in a big blanket and set her in a corner until she is whole again my heart will feel better. I don’t like when my babies get broken.

Does God feel  like that? Does he long to reach  out and wrap us in protective coating? Is that why he sent his son, Jesus Christ? I think he did. He knew that while we were vulnerable, broken, damaged here on earth that his son being our savior equaled the ultimate wrap in protective bubble wrap, ultimate protection from harm, eternity without the damages, safe in the arms of our creator.

Broken but Counting:

The Man up til 11pm with her Geometry because he wants to offer her grace, he wants her to join her friend at the beach and  he’s willing to let it cost him so she can go.

The strawberry that looked like a purse and she carried it around but then she popped it in her mouth before I could snap a picture.

Thunder and Rain for an entire day.

That the break  was clean and she has a 50/50 chance of being  in her recital and she really could be  whole to begin pointe this summer.

The quartet  of neighborhood boys all at the front door to return The Boys treasures accidentally left outside.

The M&M sisters at the door with a get well card for Girlie #1

The beautiful collection of  seashell from her beach  excursion.

My belated birthday gift. A hand made mini Fungi and  even better the story of the man with the shirt that said, Fun-gi (Fun Guy) and I’m thinking she was telling me that I’m a Fun Gal and that she enjoys our company is a treasure.

Leopard Rain boots on a rainy day.

This Cycle

I’m here in this little corner of quiet, quiet in a broken wicker chair with faded, fraying cushions. Here in my bare faced, pajama clad self. A few moments of introspect, retrospect….time to inspect. Sit down with God and ask, “What did you thing of my behavior this last week?”

It was a tough week. I tried to stay true to our families ‘standard operating procedures’. The struggles of one child say I didn’t do a grand job.

They’re always looking for the crack in the surface.
My daily uphill battle.
It is so hard. 

Hard to parent, hard to want to parent.
Hard to hold to the truth that the work I’m doing is molding, shaping.

My heart’s longing? 

Children with souls hungry, thirsty for righteousness, forever panting for more of him, longing to serve and obey him all their lifelong days.

But those cracks, those chinks, that sin of mine.
How do I keep it from being a net they are forever tangled in?

Sometimes, so invisible and it wraps, twists and knots around their little ankles. And, like tangled jewelry they bring it to me to repair, make usable again, I must help them untangle and make visible what seems transparent and yet all the world can see, could see. I bend down to unwind, unknot and I find myself tripped with them in the same sordid sin.

I come back to my quiet little space, my broken chair and write, to search my soul. I read, to wash my mind. Pray, to receive his knowledge and wisdom.

I ask, beg, for his light to illuminate the invisible thread net that has brought me to my knees.

I find scarred hands assisting in the process.

I grow.

I ask how?
Now that I’ve shown, spoke, led in all the wrong ways,

Lord, reveal to me how to bend down with them, with you, and untangle the mess.

I’m so diligent the first time and maybe even the second,  
but then I’m bored.

We’ve gone over this dozens of times and I don’t want to go over it anymore. 
I’m a tangled mess….again.  

So, here I am in the cycle…
A hard fought week with only baby steps.
So small, but maybe, milestones?

I’m grateful for this moment working alongside him, holding his scarred hand.

Finding peace in the task of being. 

And I’ll be better at heading into the busyness and life away from my quiet corner.

It’s Amazing Love, his for me, mine for them, that whirls me through this cycle over and over again.
Peaceful Counting:
Girlie #2’s  photos of the Suzuki Samurai
The Man happily tackling all the Tuesday Taxi Craziness so I can indulge.
A family on a field trip.
New friends and attending their birthday parties with old  friends.
Generations of Bride & Groom beauty gazing out from the picture frames in our house.
Intimate talks with engaged  couples.
The Dad calling to tell me tomorrow’s moon will be closer than ever in 20 some odd years and  so we should be outside tomorrow eve to embrace it.
The amazing beauty of The Small Blue Heron and having it cross the path right in front of me.
A day spent in Florida Wetlands and so much room to breath.

My Boy’s Battle

He storms in. I recognize this anger. On too many occasions I’ve enveloped myself in it like a warm cape. I confine him and his garment to a chair in my office but the emotion must be released. He hits the chair, beats the floor and makes noises to draw me into his cloak of anger.

Not long ago I chose to go there with my children. Anger would build up inside while I tried to be

A patient I wasn’t,
Fought for a Calm I Didn’t Have.

Today was different. In a prayerful state I asked for guidance. I invested time and attention to navigate my way so I could help him work through his Heart of Anger.

He continued to throw venemous, sarcastic words at me.

Why, oh why is he so adept at this painful art at such a young age,
Is it because I led him there and now I must help him find his way out.

I took his place in the chair and pulled his young body onto my lap. I flipped past ink filled, tear stained pages of my anger journal to find a clean list of questions and we began the process of unraveling his sin.

His body’s hard and stiff in my arms and I beian to whisper truth into his ear.
Only seven, but he says to me,

“My sins are too many”

And he feels this way and I understand because how many times have I been brought to my knees with the same knowledge.

We read Righteous Anger vs. Sinful Anger and we read Romans 12 and he begins to sob. So cleanly aware of the messiness of his life and I get to pray with him. We ask for wisdom and listening ears so we can clearly hear the Holy Spirit’s guidance.

His body begins to soften. He takes the tissues used to wipe his tears and begins to stuff them in his mouth. The tender moment too much, it must be punctuated with laughter. I frame his precious face in my hands and we speak kind words to each other. I proclaim him a child of the King and he humbly and prayerfully asks for forgiveness.

And here in this little room my boy has fought a mighty battle and he has made his King proud.
God has been glorified .