Dear Peanut-Girl, What I’ve Learned Through the Fantastic Fours

You’re five. Just pressing my fingertips to those nine computer keys hurts. You’re five. How did this happen? My baby. Now five.

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Yet those words make me happy, too. You’re different – different good. I like it. I like you. You’re not at all who I expected you to be. You’re better.

You’re crazy. You’re precious. You’re precocious. You’re your daddy’s girl and your mama’s shadow. You’re your grandmama’s angel and your grandpa’s delight. And you’re your very own person.

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I’ve learned a lot through this past year – this year I’ve called the Fantastic Fours. Here’s what I’ve learned…

I’ve learned that every year, just about three weeks after your birthday, you test me. You push me, you push the limits, you push yourself, and you prove what you’re made of.

I’ve learned that consistent discipline and persistent love bring us both to the place of experiencing God’s best.

I’ve learned that mutual respect works with more than just jobs and marriages. It works with kids, too.

I’ve learned that you crave affection and long for words of affirmation – and it’s my joy to give you both.

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I’ve learned that what makes you happy is being loved, and for you, that means spending time together.

I’ve learned that you can shoulder responsibility beyond your years – with grace and joy.

I’ve learned that four-year-old silliness isn’t my “thing”. (Sorry, just isn’t.)

I’ve learned that you love your friends, Go Fish, and Dinosaurs.

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I’ve learned that you love to learn and homeschooling is definitely for us.

I’ve learned that I must allow you to teach me so I may teach you.

I’ve learned that children are good pray-ers, good forgivers, good peacemakers.

I’ve learned that you want a Tinkerbell guitar, Tinkerbell motorcycle, Tinkerbell baseball bat, Tinkerbell socks, and Tinkerbell clock. Ariel used to be your favorite. Tinkerbell won out this year.

I’ve learned that you’re a challenge, and I’m up for it.

I’ve learned that I really like you. A lot. I think you’re cool. (Yes, “cool”. It’s a word that was rad or down or hot or sick or whatever back when your mom was young…but still a lot older than you are now.)

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I’ve learned that the “Wiggle Game” is by far the best way to help you learn anything – really, anything.

I’ve learned that it hurts me when other little kids hurt you.

I’ve learned that God really does lead me in how to lead you as long as I stay close enough to hear Him.

I’ve learned that you’re learning to love Jesus, and I have no greater joy than to hear that my child is walking in the truth.

I’ve learned that you make a good partner, a good team-mate. And team mates we are – you, Daddy, and me. Team Greene.

I’ve learned that when school just isn’t working for this day or this week or this month, we’re good! We’ll play. We’ll snuggle. We’ll learn. We’re us. And we’re good.

I’ve learned that when school IS working, we can’t allow others to discourage us. We’ll play. We’ll snuggle. We’ll learn. We’re not “pushing” anything. We’re us. And we’re good together.

I’ve learned that the sound of your laughter is the best sound in the world and your smile makes me happier than almost anything else.

I’ve learned that for all my days, all my life, I’ll love you – but then again, I already knew that. Happy fifth birthday, Peanut-Girl. I’m so very thankful you’re my daughter.

Our Loss, Heaven’s Gain

Virginia Gilstrap Tweedy Durr, Born December 19, 1930, went home to her Lord May 14, 2014.

Grandma

Some called her Sister Tweedy. Some called her Sister Durr. Some called her Mom. I called her Grandma. I can’t remember a time that I didn’t know and love her – my memories of her extend back to when I was a tiny tot.

I can still hear her gentle and genuine laughter as my brother and I tumbled across the floor in wrestle-play. She would say, “Well, goodness, doesn’t that hurt, honey?” then shake her head and laugh again when I went back for more. Her legacy of laughter is my rich heritage.

I can still see her soft and radiant face full of reverent affection as she opened her heart to Jesus in loving worship and confident petition. I would keep my eyes open and watch in fascination as she spoke to God like she was talking to a friend. Her legacy of prayer is my rich heritage.

I can still envision her small and slender frame as she walked next to the love of her life, her soft hand tucked into his strong arm. Her deep joy, abiding love, and genuine respect for Grandpa were evident in all she did. Her legacy of holy matrimony is my rich heritage.

Grandma was a unique blend and balance of all the finest character traits and qualities, which found their roots in her soul day by day as she followed her Savior. A story told by author Elizabeth George finds its personification in my grandmother:

Elizabeth relates the content of an article she once read, titled The Bell Sheep. The piece explained that when a shepherd noticed a certain sheep that willingly followed and stayed near him, he hung a bell around the neck of that sheep. The flock would then follow the “bell sheep”, and thus they stayed near the shepherd.

Grandma loved the Lord her God with all her heart, soul, and strength. The words which He commanded her were in her heart, and she taught them diligently to her children, grandchildren, and everyone around her. She talked about them when she sat in her house, when she walked by the way, when she lay down, and when she rose up (Deut. 6:5-7). She was, indeed, a bell sheep. Her legacy of following the Shepherd is my rich heritage.

Not long after we had our first child, my husband and I took her to meet my grandma. Our baby girl was only six months old, but I wanted her to know the woman who was weaving a godly legacy that is now her rich heritage.

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Grandma, Peanut, & Me

The classiest of ladies, she was the epitome of dignity and grace. She had the boldness of a lion, the gentleness of a dove, and the face of an angel. I will endeavor always by the grace of God to honor her legacy. Some called her Sister Tweedy. Some called her Sister Durr. Some called her Mom. But I was blessed to call her Grandma.

Becoming Famous at Home

Family

Mark Batterson, author of The Circle Maker, says that fame and fortune, as the world sees them, mean nothing to him. “I want to be famous in my home,” he says, “That is the greatest fortune.

Gaining fame and respect from those who know you best is found in offering them the best in you. Showing respect and consideration toward one another should be one of the bedrock foundations of our homes – a high calling to treat those closest to us in a way that esteems them as honorable and deeply cared for.

All too often, we can be careful to extend the basic rules of etiquette to those who know nothing of who we really are, yet fill our homes with complaining, nagging, and condescension. But our homes ought to be known for the use of good manners and polite behaviors.

 

Here are some ways we can become famous with our family:

 

~ Put family second only to God. To live with sustainable authentic integrity requires maintaining a right relationship with God. Our familial relationships must come before any other earthly friendship (and our family needs to know it does), but our standing with the Lord must come before even our loved ones. God is the one who gives power to maintain all other relationships, so we must seek first His righteousness, then these things will be added to us (Matt. 6:33).

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~ Give your full attention to them when they speak. Our family members should never have to ask us to notice them. They are worth our undivided attention.

Pay Attention

 

~ Let them hear you pray for them. My husband and I have made a habit of praying together each morning, and there is not much sweeter sound on earth than hearing someone you love pray for you. Praying for others in their presence lets them know that you hear their deepest needs and desires, and that you care enough to come boldly before the throne of grace for them.

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~ Say please when asking for anything – no matter how trivial, and verbalize appreciation when you receive something by saying thank you. This isn’t just for kids, it’s for adults, too. We shouldn’t tell our children to say these “magic words”, and then refuse to act politely ourselves.

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~ Always speak the truth in love. I am always truthful – always. But I must confess: I am not always loving when I tell the truth. My prayer is that gentle honesty will reign in my home – and in my tongue.

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~ Speak the truth. While we must be kind, our loved ones need us to watch out for them; to love them enough to speak truth into their lives. If we see them slipping into sin, forming unhealthy habits, or giving place to the devil, we must treasure their hearts enough to risk their displeasure, because we cannot risk their souls. And we must be open to their admonition, too.

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~ Allow others to finish their sentences without interrupting. This is another big challenge for me! I am quick to interrupt, but James 1:19 tells us to be quick to listen and slow to speak. We should also listen with full intent to understand their point through their eyes. Love is patient (1 Cor. 13:4)!

Love is patient

 

~ Be quick to apologize for offenses, even the ones where we just don’t understand how someone could become offended over what we did. We don’t always have to understand exactly what we did or even believe that we were wrong, but if we have offended those we love, then we need to ask their forgiveness.

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~ Never talk against family members or make fun of them in public. Airing dirty laundry and intentional embarrassment are poison to familial relationships. I have heard wives defend talking against their husbands by saying they’re just “being realistic”. I have yet to find scripture to justify or advocate that position.

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~ Spend more of your free time with them than anyone else. We’ve all heard that quality time matters more than the quantity, but that isn’t true. The merit of the opportunities are hidden in the volume of the time spent.

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~ Give them the gift of pointing them to the Savior. No spouse or parent or sibling or friend can give enough love and grace and space and time. God so loved your family that He gave of His family to save and deliver them from the enemy of their souls, and to adopt them as His own.

Point them to Him

 

~ Thank God for them every day – and tell them how grateful you are for them.

The Gift of Gratefulness

 

Please tell me, what would you add to this list?

 

 

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Living the Greatest Blessings

 

I swung my feet out of bed and grabbed a cup of coffee. I sat down with my husband to chat for a moment, kissed his lips then took his hand and we invited God into every part of our day. I heard chatter so I sat on a little girl’s bed and giggled and dreamed with my bubbly and bright-eyed child before getting her up. I fed her breakfast while reading Bible stories and trying to keep the dog from begging at the table.

 

I completed the near-daily chore of vacuuming and mopping the house, took my little one to the potty for the twentieth time, and praised and cheered for a job well done. I shooed a hyper dog away from a hissing cat for the hundredth time, and worked out while my daughter banged on a tin can with a metal hinge that I’m pretty sure was a fairly important part to a weight machine. I created sand castles with my tow-headed toddler, swept rocks from the walkway and collected sticks. I picked up my frightened child who got knocked down by the dog chasing a ball, and belly laughed with my mama over comical Facebook posts.

 

I said a prayer and fed my girl who fed the dog, cleaned the broken glass and spilled milk, arranged letters on a blackboard and talked about words and colors and numbers. I read a book about red fish and blue fish and sang about sunshine and happiness and gray skies. I settled the girl into bed for a nap, and sat down to work on a small client project, and then to try to put my heart on paper.

 

I grabbed my thanksgiving journal to jot a few things down and to read through the week’s gifts unwrapped. I smiled. I am living my greatest blessings.

 

   There are no interruptions in a day.

There are only manifestations of Christ.

You are doing something great with your life – when you’re doing all the small things with His Great love.” – Ann Voskamp

 

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Born to a Friend

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A sibling is, perhaps, one of the most peculiar individuals you will come in contact with. American author Susan Scarf Merrill has said that “siblings resemble us just enough to make their differences confusing.” Yet when you are a sibling you have, regardless of familial frustrations, been born to a friend.

 

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Siblings have a connection like no other; our brothers and sisters are an intricate part of our lives that make us who we are. An older sibling has, along with our parents, known us longer than anyone else, and when a brother or sister dies, their death affects us in ways never imagined.

The fifth anniversary of my only sibling’s death is coming up in two days. My big brother, Ron, was driving home on the Interstate after church on a Sunday evening when the rear passenger tire of his SUV blew out, causing the vehicle to roll. He was not wearing a seat belt.

The minutes since his death have turned to hours and then to months, and in an ever-shifting life, I have now become owner and resident of our childhood home. My family moved to this house when I was still in diapers, and it was here that my brother and I grew up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, and in the love and safety of family. Now my own little family lives and loves and laughs here, and from time to time, I still catch whiffs of the scent of bygone days.

At unexpected moments, I open doors and drawers and discover tucked away memories of old, dig in the dirt with my child and unearth flashes of the past, watch my daughter swing and climb and run and fall and get up, and find keepsake scenes of days long ago. And while some of them cause tears to overflow, most just make me smile.

We had a wonderful childhood, and we were best friends. By our teenage years, we often went different directions, and as we reached adulthood, we tended to seek out and travel divergent paths. Still, even though we had changed and found our own unique places in the world, when tears fell and smiles spread, we found each other. And I always knew, no matter what, I had been born to a friend.

 

In Memory

 

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The Shepherd, Bell Sheep, and Lamb

I recently began reading Raising a Daughter After God’s Own Heart by Elizabeth George. She begins the book by defining a bell sheep: “When a shepherd noticed a sheep who willingly followed him and stayed near him, he hung a bell around the neck of that sheep so the flock would follow the bell sheep…who, in turn, was following the shepherd.” She then says, “A mom should be the bell sheep for her daughter!

 

And how are we as mothers to become the bell sheep for our children? We “shall love the Lord our God with all our hearts, with all our soul, and with all our strength. And these words which He commands us…shall be in our heart. We shall teach them diligently to our children, and shall talk of them when we sit in our house, when we walk by the way, and when we lie down, and when we rise up,” Deuteronomy 6:5-7.

 

As I read, my heart cried out, “Oh, God, let me be Your bell sheep for my daughter! I will – I do! – love You with everything in me, Your words are in my heart, and my delight is in talking about You! May my consistent and diligent teaching help my little girl become a woman after Your own heart!”

 

As I poured out my heart before God, He showed me how my mother had been the bell sheep that led and trained me to become one for my daughter, and now, she and I are living as unified partners in this high calling of training up a child. I realized how great the love of the Good Shepherd is for my daughter…He has surrounded my baby with bell sheep!

 

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This year, I will spend Mother’s Day enjoying my own gift of motherhood, as well as celebrating my mama, the one who diligently taught me the Word of God. Through her, I was introduced to the One I love with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength. I pray that as a mother, I can teach as diligently, love as wholly, live as sacrificially, and raise a child after God’s own heart as well as she has.

 

Three Generations

 

 

Unwrapping the Gifts

 

922. A good, Good Shepherd Who loves my little one even more than I do

 

932. Hugs that heal sorrow, laughter that follows tears, and love that never fails

 

959. Clocks

 

923. The honor of being a Mother

 

Of All the Rights of Women

 

911. Not having to worry about the words our little Peanut-Parrot hears her parents say

 

969. Peanut loves her new house

 

995. Sharing in the sacrament of Communion with fellow Christ-followers

 

Please tell me, what gifts have you unwrapped this week?

A Million Faithful Moments

It has been several weeks since I’ve written a post here, and life has blown through my hours and days like a whirling dervish. Rushing winds of life change, peculiar blessings, and unimaginable joy have replaced the gentle breeze that was my life. Gentle breezes will return again, but for this season, I’m panting from the gusts of new adventures.

 

Breathe Deep

 

In just two months, my mama became single again, my husband lost and gained a job, I’ve battled a painful, exhausting illness, I’ve felt the healing hand of the Great Physician, we’ve moved 40 miles south from our little haven-home into my childhood home and in with my mama, and rented out our little haven-home.

 

There is so much I could tell you of God’s grace, goodness, mercy, and blessings over these past months; He has been so good, and we have been so loved. It’s the strangest thing: the greatest happiness comes in such unexpected ways.

 

I sat in my computer chair, twirling it round and round as I talked with my mama who was standing on the steps that now bridge her home and mine together.

 

This is a dream I didn’t even dream, but it’s a dream come true,” she said.

 

I smiled, but something stirred within me. I had heard that somewhere before.

 

When God’s Word is written on your heart, it becomes second nature to hear it in your ears. And there it was: “Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us….” Ephesians 3:20

 

A Million Faithful Moments

 

A million moments full of the faithfulness of a good God. This dream has just begun….

 

 

 Unwrapping the Gifts

951. A new haven-home

963. Gorgeous views from our back yard

966. Being surrounded by those who love me when I have no more strength in my body

965. The healing touch of the Great Physician

981. Going back to our wonderful church family after so many years

983. Settling in to life’s new routine

984. Working out again!

985. Watching Peanut thrive in her new surroundings

987. An unexpected date with my husband at a blast-from-the-past local hangout

986. I may not know what my future holds, but I know Who holds my future

 

What gifts have you unwrapped this week?