Boot Camp

This story is a couple years old, but I keep coming back to it in my thoughts, so I am sharing it with you today. I look forward to hearing your thoughts!

ImageMy son is in “Boot Camp.” By his own choice. He’s six. Recently, he asked a family friend, who is an officer in the Marine Corps, what Boot Camp was. With a tease in his voice, the Marine described “Boot Camp” as: 1) getting up before your mother to clean the house for her, 2) standing at attention every evening to do what your parents want, 3) working hard, and I added keeping a good attitude. This concept of Boot Camp captivated his imagination! He wants to be a Marine now, and for the first couple of days he insisted he was a soldier.

The moment we arrived home that evening, he asked what he could do for being in Boot Camp. He made his brother’s lunch for school the next day, set the table for supper, and helped clear it afterward. Daily, he reminds me he’s in Boot Camp, and asks what he needs to do. He has maintained a great attitude and touched me with the purity and beauty of his service.

Though we are a few days beyond the introduction of this concept, he’s still excited about being in Boot Camp. To him, it is something special, a secret he’s only telling a few close friends. He is passionate about it, about serving selflessly, being a part of something bigger than himself, and about being a Marine one day.

This morning, as I spent time with Jesus, this question came to mind: “Jeanne, what about you? Are you in My ‘Boot Camp’?” Startled, I realized I have a lot to learn from my son’s heart attitude toward serving.

Where his has been one of delight and joy, my heart tends to serve more out of obligation, because “it must get done.” My son’s attitude toward serving our family has been one of willingness, even when he’d rather play. I serve willingly, but my heart sometimes complains. My son has practiced being disciplined to do the right thing when it needs to be done. Sometimes, I put things off because I want “a little ‘me’ time.” My son has kept an amazing attitude of respect towards his parents this week. For me, I catch myself “talking short” to the kids more than I’d like to admit.

As a wife and a mother, service is a part of my life. But, can I serve Jesus by serving my family with a heart that rejoices? Can I have the same purity and fervor my son has shown me this week? To do so, I need to re-align my heart with Jesus, identifying with Him and seeking Him. He has called me to be a wife and mother, which involves more than cleaning the house and cooking meals. Being in God’s army is a calling that is bigger than myself. It’s going to be tough, but I think I’m going to sign up for “Boot Camp” right now.

Your Turn: Have you ever had a “Boot Camp” sort of experience? What were you challenged to change?

Red Mustangs

Image“Would you like to upgrade to a convertible red mustang at no extra cost?”

Those words made my heart pound. Really? A red ‘stang? I’ve always wanted to drive one. The candy-apple red temptress whispered to that cautious part inside me saying, “Try it, You’ll like it!” I looked at my hubby, trying to tamp down the eager in my heart. We were ready for some fun. I thought about our friends’ faces when we pulled up to their homes in our red built-for-speed convertible and grinned to myself.

We drove out of the rental car parking lot, ready to be adventurous. Well, as adventurous as the forty-something mother of two dares to be in Vegas. This car had power. A tiny touch on the accelerator gave it plenty of speed. The barest tap on the brakes reined it in. Oh, I liked it.

It didn’t take long for other thoughts to nudge their way into my mind, though. Thoughts like, “This is Vegas. This car screams, ‘Steal Me!’” Or, the realization that our red adventure on four wheels would be a magnet for every policeman in our vicinity to radar in on our vehicle, judging the way we drove before looking at the occupants. And, thoughts like, “Honey, let’s park in the garage or use valet, to keep our rental car out of sight.”

I realized the risks inherent with driving a fire-engine red speed machine could steal the joy from my fun. Was I going to let it? I could worry about every police car we passed, about what might happen if we parked out in the open and what passersby would be thinking about how to break into “our” car, or I could learn to enjoy our adventure and take necessary precautions.

So, too, those unexpected adventures that find each of us on our life-journeys may hold risks.Image Are we going to let ourselves experience a mild walk on the “wild side” of the road and learn to manage the risks, or will we allow fear and worry determine how we interact with God’s planned adventures? This cautious gal is learning to deal with the maybes and enjoy the unexpected blessings.

Your Turn: Have you ever had a surprise adventure that came with strings attached? What was it and what did you do?

Dogged By Fear

Image

Image courtesy of Luigi Diamanti and freedigitalphotos.net

“Mommy, will you please hold me?” Peter asked as we knocked on the door at a friend’s house. The thought of being greeted by a dog, no matter how small, nice or mellow struck fear into the deepest part of my then five year old son.

I wanted to reply, “Honey, God doesn’t want you to be afraid.” To me, facing a dog is a normal part of life. To him, fear of the unknown loomed larger than anything else in the moment.

As I considered the terror my son had of dogs, I thought about a Bible verse. “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7, NKJV).” It is easy for me to spout these words to my boy, but how do they apply in my life? What are the “dogs” I face? An unstable economy, difficult people, sickness and other concerns all fall into the “Things I fear” category.

This verse made me realize I cannot react in fear to a situation and still think clearly about it. And, I can’t work through it with God’s power and with His love if fear determines my steps. One half of the verse or the other will dictate how I respond to life’s challenges.

A spirit of fear persuades me to flounder through trials and uncertainties with my own strength rather than trusting in God. It encourages me to focus on myself rather than on Him. When I choose this manner of getting through tough circumstances, I end up confused, exhausted and defeated. If I choose to trust God in the scary things of my life, I can rest in Him and know that He’s “got it.”

That day at my friend’s house, I held Peter’s hand and stepped inside with him close at my side. How wonderful to know that God does the same for me. When I call out to Him, He gives me what I need to overcome fear and to walk with confidence through the situation.

Your Turn: What helps you to work through fear?

Eye Adjustments

ImageI recently shared a post on my friend Lindsay Harrel’s blog (http://lindsayharrel.blogspot.com/2013/02/eye-trouble-post-by-jeanne-takenaka.html) about my upcoming visit to the ophthalmologist. I’m a forty-something lady who’s never had to wear anything but sunglasses. During that appointment, the doctor helped me to see my eyes are “maturing.” My first step into the world of “glasses-wearers” began with selecting the frames for a pair of prescription readers.

I received the call that the glasses were ready to be picked up. Nothing could have prepared me for the unexpected responses from my boys. When my guys got home from school, I let them know we were going to run an errand. Our youngest, “Edmund,” who didn’t know I had made the visual jump into the world of spectacles, wept. I hugged and comforted him. He didn’t think he’d like the way I’d look in glasses. “Peter,” our oldest, felt the same way, and tried oh, so gently to express his concern. What was I to do with this? I need the glasses, but my kids won’t want to look at me when I wear them? Whoa. I sooooo did not see this coming.

It made me think about how I respond to the changes God allows into my life. The step into glasses wasn’t a big deal for me. I knew it was coming, and I like the glasses I picked. I had a say in how this change became reality. It’s those changes I have no control over that are hard to work through. A job change that requires a move, finding out my dreams of pregnancy would only ever be dreams (another post for another day), the pop-up business trips that keep my hubby away for days at a time.

How do I respond to change? Honestly? Sometimes, I have myself a little cry (or a big, agonizing one), but then I must choose how to move forward. I can continue to throw myself a pity party and bring my whole family down, or I can look at it through God’s lenses. He knows the plans He has for my life. I’ve learned his plans are always better than the ones I craft for myself. Remembering this makes it easier to embrace the changes He brings about in my life.

As for my boys? Peter is trying to like me in my new glasses, even though they make me look “older.” Edmund still struggles with the idea of his mother not “looking as pretty” as she does without them. There’s a compliment in there somewhere. At least

Image I don’t need to wear them all the time. We three are learning how to accept the changes that come into our lives with grace and by trusting God.

Your Turn: How do you handle change?

What Does Love Look Like?

Image

Image courtesy of imagery majestic at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

When I was a teenager, my teeny-bopper heart longed to be married when I was eighteen. I know, looking back decades later, I see the folly of that heart’s desire. I equated “married love” with acceptance. I pictured a man (or man-boy at eighteen to twenty years old) embracing me for who I was, loving me with abandon and being mine forever and ever amen. Yes, you’re allowed to laugh, I was the epitome of youthful naivete.

I know people who married young and are still together. If I had married at eighteen, I probably would have been divorced by twenty-three. I grew and changed so much as a person in those five years. Though some of the waiting years between eighteen and when I met my husband were tough, I’m so glad now that I waited for God’s best.

When I married at twenty-eight years old, love looked much different. It doesn’t look like someone placing me at the center of his universe. Thank goodness! It doesn’t look like him always catering to my needs. I’ve discovered the joy of giving and receiving in my relationship with my honey. I am his second priority, right after his relationship with Jesus. There’s something indescribably wonderful about being cherished by my man. The commitment he lives out each day, the sacrifices he makes, the patience he extends when I’m writing like a mad woman–these are priceless gifts of love.

I love making sure our home is a place he wants to come home to. In our relationship, love also looks like: cuddling up together to watch a movie and munch on big bowl of popcorn. Or, giving him space and down-time for his introverted side to regroup after a difficult day. Love is knowing what his needs are and doing what I can to meet them, even when it’s inconvenient for me.

Love is giving and receiving.

Your turn: How did love look to you at eighteen? How do you describe love now?

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Valentine’s Validation

As Image courtesy of noppasinw at FreeDigitalPhotos.neta girl, I loved creating in the sand–building sand castles, scrawling words and sketching images with a stick. Then I watched as waves rolled up and washed my masterpieces away. I always knew it would happen, and most of the time, that was okay.

As I grew older, the same sort of thing took place in my heart. I looked for love, drawing a certain picture of what it should look like in my mind’s eye. Around Valentine’s Day, those snap shots included candy, roses and my hand being held by some cute guy. Because, well, that’s what was supposed to happen on February fourteenth, according to television and card companies. They conveyed the message that I was only validated if I had a “Valentine.” Of course, I never had a “Mr. Right” escorting me to some romantic restaurant for Valentine’s Day. “Pick me second, or third, or fourth” seemed to be written on my forehead.

It took a long time for the truths of God’s word to wipe that lie off of the sands of my heart. God’s love for us is permanent, written into the inner core of who we are with indelible ink. It can’t be stripped away by the waves that crash upon the shores of our lives. Though our love for Him sometimes drifts onto the beach and back out, He has loved us with an everlasting love.

Though I’m married to Mr. Amazing now, I still remember God’s love for me is steadfast, un-erasable by the messages I hear and see in this world. His love speaks words of life into my heart. My honey is my on-earth Valentine, and Jesus is my eternal Valentine. I am cherished by both. And Valentine’s Day doesn’t get any better than that.

Your Turn: What are your thoughts about Valentine’s Day? Do you have any special traditions that mark the day?

Introduction Vlog-Welcome!

Hello, thank you so much for stopping my my first-ever blog post, actually vlog post. I have followed blogs for a while now, and I always love when I can match a face and a voice. So I thought I would enter the world of blogging with a vlog.

I began “rolling” with the idealistic notion that I would need one to five takes to get just what I wanted on film. So much for that thought. The following vlog is the end result of more “takes” than I’m going to admit to. I hope you’ll stop by often and visit with me.