Thursday, February 28, 2013

Distractions in the circus of life

Our family is one that struggles financially. My very brave and hard-working husband works as a law enforcement officer while I stay home with our three boys. Living on a very humble salary has been hard but it has genuinely changed us for the better. We are more cautious, mindful and purposeful than ever before, regarding money. We have come to recognize the value each dollar has and because of this, the pain of wasteful spending is like a punch in the gut for us. Thank God we have very supportive families and friends that live close by. We aren’t able to give extravagant gifts or go on vacation but my kids wouldn’t know the difference. They have plenty of people to spoil them!

My oldest boy’s fifth birthday was coming up and my mom told me of the surprise she had for Silas. She and my dad were giving the whole family tickets to the circus! I jumped with excitement just thinking of his reaction and the fun we all would have.

When the circus day finally arrived we picked up the tickets from grandma and grandpa and everyone was thrilled to go. The grandparents also gave the kids $20 each for souvenirs at the circus. I was thinking that was a lot of money for a souvenir until I actually got to the circus and saw the barrage and array of 'stuff' to buy. Clowns were going up and down the aisles selling elaborate spinners, popcorn in large Dr. Seuss type hats, ice cones in clown mugs, blinking light headpieces and a hundred other blinking ‘things’. I knew they each had $20, which to us was like $200. I could feel my stress levels skyrocket as I asked what each thing cost. The kids were only three and five years old and kept changing their mind of what they wanted. Of course they wanted the biggest spinning blinking light toy that cost more than what they had. In the hurry to get something before the show started, my husband flagged down a guy selling snow cones in a clown mug. I knew that probably wasn’t the best idea since they never had a snow cone before. I had a suspicion they wouldn’t like it. When they first got it they were delighted at the electric blue snow cones. About ten seconds later Silas threw up the spoonful he had in his mouth and Cannon (my three year old) didn’t want it either and kept saying he wanted a spinning toy. Realizing the boys didn’t like it, my husband took the mugs and threw out the snow cones in the bathroom. I was sick to my stomach that in ten seconds we just threw away almost all of the money they were given on something they didn’t even like! My eyes welled up with tears as I stuffed the empty clown mugs in my bag and just sat there thinking, “I’m at the happiest, most exciting place in the city, my kids are miserable and I feel sick about the wasted money...and the show hasn't even started yet!” As the circus finally began and the lights dimmed, the boys totally forgot about the souvenir escapade and had such a great time. Not once did they mention the stupid spinning toy. We all had a blast.

When we got home I took out the mugs to put their water in and their eyes lit up as they said, “Oh yeah, I LOVE these!!!!” I laughed to myself because they hated it not a few hours earlier with all the distractions around. As they were squirming in their chair thrilled to death that they got to have water in their souvenir clown mugs, I reflected back on the day and the whole souvenir debacle. I thought how when confronted with flashy silly toys their eyes grew wild with desire for everything and how dissatisfied they were with their decision. They were perfectly content before all the gimmicky clowns were parading around enticing their young innocent hearts. Those clowns were showing the kids what they didn’t have and how much fun they were missing out on as they spun their spinners and threw their ‘boomerings’. I doubt they would have been satisfied with anything they got.

I thought about how often that happens to us as adults. We want to live, be content with what we have, enjoy our lives and be close to God. Just like those clowns going up and down the aisles at the circus, we too get distracted. We see that perfect family or the perfectly organized home or the perfect kids or the shiny car or the designer ‘whatever’ or a million other things. We lose focus and decide we need all those things. We start to feel discontent and dissatisfied with anything and everything we get because it’s never enough. When the distractions are pushed aside we are able to see the big picture, we find joy again in the reason we’re alive- to love God and others. When the actual performance started, the boys forgot about wanting everything they saw, they were focused on the actual reason they were there… to see the show. When our actual purpose starts, we too forget about wanting everything we see. Our purpose is to find our significance in who God made us to be and to share that with others. Once we let the show begin in our own lives we can get busy at loving the life we have and let the distractions dissipate into the background.  

Monday, February 18, 2013

To my manly boy, Silas

Today you are FIVE years old. I tear up thinking about how fast these years have gone by, knowing that the next five years will go by just as fast. I want to just savor all the memories and constantly make new ones because you have been one of the greatest joys in my life. When God thought you up, He went to town with his creative genius. Loving, kind, independent, shy, handsome as all get out, expressive, hilarious, and a million other great things. God’s plan for you started before you were born. He knows your every move and every thought. He used me to bring you into the world. You can’t even imagine the love I have for you and to think that my immeasurable love is but a drop of water in the vast ocean of God’s love for you... that just takes my breath away. I would say that one day you’ll understand it, but I’d be lying. You’ll never know the depths of His love for you because it is too great. I pray you’d try though. I pray you’d fall on your knees, close your eyes and be awestruck with every attempt at grasping at it. When I met you five years ago, it was one of the best days of my life. These last five years have been a whirlwind. Thank God I took a million pictures because how easy it is to forget. I remember your silky soft skin, your hairy ears, your fat paws, and your sumo wrestler rolls all over your body. 

How your dad and I looked at you and just bawled our eyes out! Tears of love that couldn’t be contained, tears of anticipation of ‘What do we do with you?!’ Tears of vulnerability, of surrender and of happiness that you were finally here. As the months and years have passed on I look at you with such pride. 

That God has chosen me to be your mommy is something to bask in. I am filled with gratitude for all the moments and memories we’ve made and shared and all the moments we will share in the future. As a baby you were so pleasant, happy and goofy. Really, you were the funniest kid. You were so expressive, filled to the brink with energy, independence and innocence. I remember thinking, I wonder what the record is for most kissed baby because all I did was kiss and squeeze you. 

I didn’t want to miss any season, any milestone. I was right there cheering you on, always your number one fan. I always will be. You are so incredibly smart, articulate, funny and amazing in every way. You could always express why you were angry, disappointed or felt sad. You are one special kid and hands down the best brother anyone could ask for. 

 You’ve taught me more than you’ll ever know. Today I hope you know not only how much you’re treasured, but how much you have taught me about life, God and family. Thank you for the gift of being a mother. I am so much of a better person because of you. My dreams for you are to fly high and to dream your own dreams whatever they may be. 

You are my dream come true, baby. Happy birthday to the boy who forever holds my heart. I love you Silas Benjamin!!