Sunday, January 25, 2009

Lessons from Wrestling...

Well, those of you who know us well, know that wrestling is a major part of our lives every Winter. All five of our sons wrestle, and our oldest son Brey has been wrestling for 9 years now. That makes me a wrestlers' mom for almost a decade. Those of you wrestling moms know the challenges we face. I always describe it to my friends as watching a stranger twist and pummel your very most prize possesion! There are lots of funny ways to talk about wrestling and boys, from the smell of their shoes to dealing with losing a match to a girl! But after yesterday, I have not been able to find anything funny about it, but have been struck by the sports comparisons to life itself. Thane and I have always explained the sport of wrestling as enabling a boy to learn how to rely on himself. It also has the potential to teach a boy about the challenges he will most certainly face as a man. As many times as I have explained this to others, I don't think I truly understood it myself until yesterday.

When Brey was born, I will never forget his dad holding him up on his second day of life and showing him to me. He said, "Becky, look at his muscles, he is the strongest baby in the world. Look at him flex those muscles!" As he grew, he was always smiling and happy, but had a will of steel. He, alone, trained us for the challenges of parenting toddlers, and the four that followed never compared to the trouble that this two year old caused. He has always held a special place for me. He has always had a tender heart, a compassionate spirit and a gentle nature. But lately, I am learning that he also has the heart of a man and guts of steel.

Brey is 14 now, and yesterday we took our five sons to a wrestling tournament in Lebanon, OR. They are an all day affair, as some of you know. This particular tournament hosted about 300 wrestlers and the competition was really tough. So Thane and I spent the day running between 2 gymnasiums, texting each other, while 5 boys run the circuit wrestling 3 matches a piece. The younger 4, suffered defeat by some very talented wrestlers. But they gave it their best, held their heads high and took what lessons for improvement they could. Then there was Brey's matches...

Brey weighs 178lbs and was bracketed with 2 other boys who weighed 208 and 218. Thane and I are always nervous for him. We watch the his competition and Thane offers helpful suggestions based on how the other boys wrestled. Brey sits quietly listening to his MP3 player or reading a book, sometimes both! He doesn't concern himself much with the competition, he doesn't get nervous or even seem remotely worried about his upcoming match. So when it came time for him to wrestle, he took off his MP3, warmed up and met his competition. The match was very intense. It went back and forth for 3 rounds with the score tied most of the match. At one point, Brey was tossed over the other wrestler only by one arm. He jumped right back up and took the boy down. Both of them were exhausted, and I am sure the heavier boy was quite surprised by Brey's ability to handle the weight difference. I watched from the side of the mat, while Thane coached him. I felt like my guts were being ripped out of me. It seemed as if my baby was fighting for his very life. Watching him struggle and fight, panting for breath and digging very deep inside for whatever he had left, brings me to tears even now. But there wasn't anything I could do for him. This was one of those times he had to rely only on himself. That was hard for me to let him do.

In the last 40 seconds or so of the last round, the other boy managed to get Brey into the "flying cowboy". For those unfamiliar with wrestling, this move ends with Brey basically in a headlock. The boy squeezed it hard and the boys together moved in a circle in the middle of the mat, as Brey fought to escape and the bigger boy squeezed harder. It seemed like it lasted forever. I screamed inside, "Brey, just give up!" I was desperate for his suffering to end. But Brey wouldn't give up. He flipped and flailed and tried everything he could think of to escape and the other boy just squeezed harder. Finally, the referee called a pin. Brey stood up slowly, his lips were purple, his eyes were bloodshot. He put his hand out to shake his opponents and then he fell over. I ran out onto the mat and sat him up helping him to breath. His dad and I had to help him off the mat to the sound of applause for a boy who had shown more strength and steel will than I'm sure many there had expected. As I sat with him in the stands, I fought back tears. "I am so proud of you", I said, and his dad echoed the same.

So what are the lessons from wrestling? It's just a sport, right? But I remain struck by the parallels of this match... to life. Many, in Brey's situation, would have been afraid. Many would have never gone out there to face an opponent so much bigger. Many would have made some effort only to be brought down out of sheer exhaustion. Many would have given up, when the situation seemed insurmountable. But Brey didn't. Life throws us many of the same challenges. Whether its a battle with an addiction, a disease, a failing marriage, is far from easy. But the character and sheer "guts" one posesses determines the fortitude with which we face such things.

Brey did take one thing out there on the mat with him. He took Christ. So too can we, take Christ with us to face all of life's "insurmountables". Even when it may seem as if we are fighting alone, we don't have to. We can fight with the strength of the Almighty One. The one who created us, the One who knows our battles better than we do. We can take Christ with us and fight, with all the guts, strength and fortitude we have...just like Brey did.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

answered prayer...

Have you ever been so desperate that you really don't know how to pray? Unfortunately, this has been my circumstance too many times. But we are designed by a great Creator who longs for us to cry out to Him in those moments. I just think that is absolutely amazing, that our God designed us with a need for Him knitted into our very souls. So many search for years if not a lifetime, led by a soul longing for its Creator.

I recently found myself in a desperate situation. I mentioned in a previous entry that I am currently on a spiritual journey. The funny thing is...really we all are. But, for me, the Lord is leading me to a closer relationship with Him and also toward a specific path He intends for me. So, over the last few months I have gained an increasing awareness of my need for healing. Not physical healing, but emotional healing. Specifically, I need to be healed of old memories. Some of you may relate to this in a very real way, for others it may sound crazy. But really it is not. So many times we ask for physical healing for ourselves and for those who are dear to us. It is so wonderful to ask the Lord to heal the body that He knows better than anyone else. Why not then our minds? Or our hearts?

So, after many days of struggling, I decided to fall on my knees and cry out to the Lord in prayer. Actually, it wasn't a "decision", it was out of desperation. But what I love, is how the Lord lifts us when we are at our lowest. In Psalm 40:2, David writes, "He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire." (David sure could relate to needing healing from memories)
After I finished praying, I silently cried myself to sleep.

The next day, I got up and went to work as usual. I had to leave the hospital for a quick errand in the morning and when I got in my car, the radio was tuned to my favorite Christian station, as usual. I headed up the road and heard a woman come on the station from "Proverbs 31 Ministries". She was sharing about a time in her life when she really struggled with regret over her past mistakes. She said, "I needed to be healed from my memories of my sin". I almost had to pull over. She continued talking about how in her desperation she cried out to the Lord to free her from her memories. The Lord revealed to her that her healing would come through sharing her story with young girls. In obedience, she trusted the Lord to guide her and in His faithfulness He has used her to reach women and young girls across this country with Proverbs 31 Ministries. Her willingness to step out in obedience, led her to true peace and spiritual healing in Christ. But the best part of it all is He designed that moment in my car, for me!! I felt His personal touch and love for me in that moment. He said, "Don't worry, Becky, I have a plan. Just trust me and step out in obedience." How encouraging!

Now, have I been miraculously healed of my memories of sin? Well, yes and no. I still have them, but I have the peace of knowing that my God has a plan to use them for His glory! Romans 8:28 says "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose." He can and will use ALL things if we give them to Him. So, here I am, taking little steps and sharing what's uncomfortable to share but gaining peace as a result.

Friday, January 9, 2009

My sister...

What a day! Today I was promoted at work. I am now the perioperative services manager at the hospital. I am really excited and looking forward to the new challenges of my position. After calling my husband to tell him the news, I made a call to my sister, Sarah.

My sister is 20 months younger than me. As children, I took great pride in being able to take care of her. I walked her to school and carried her projects home. I tried to protect her from bullies and helped her with her homework. Our parents always stressed the importance of our sibling relationship. My mother frequently reminded us that friends would come and go, but your sister is for life. I have never forgotten that. As teenagers we had different interests and different friends. We didn't always agree but we were still always sisters. We argued and fussed over clothes and boys, like most teenage girls, we were dramatic and emotional and somehow we survived adolescence still close, still sisters. But as much as we relied on each other as kids I wasn't prepared for how much we would rely on each other as women. We have stood by each other through weddings and childbirth. Through our mothers' battle with cancer and our nephew's death. Even though we live on opposite sides of the country, we see each other through.

In April 2006, my sister was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor. By her side as much as I could physically be there, I supported her. Physically, emotionally and spiritually we worked through many fears. Ultimately, we relied on our Savior's sovereign reign in her life for our comfort. She is an inspiration to me on so many levels. She lives her life day by day, loving our Lord, singing praises to Him and thanking Him for her family and His love. Through the fear she embraces life. She is thankful for the daily blessings many of us take for granted and prays through the tough days when she feels the pain of her illness. What I gave her during that time pales in comparison to the prayer, love and commitment she gave me during a very dark period in my life. Her forgiving spirit is an example of Christ's love lived out in her. She prays for me daily. She is an encouragement and a light I cannot imagine life without. Her love is humbling and her strength in the darkest hours is fierce. She makes me want to be like her.

The future is uncertain for all of us. But I know my God is sovereign and His plan is not thwarted by the things of this world. Romans 8:28 says "He will work all things for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose." His ways are far better than mine and I trust him with my sister. He is the only one who loves her more than I do.

My blessing!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

A Quarter?...Really?

Some things are just too priceless not to write down. Yesterday, my cold got the best of me and I decided to lie down for an hour before starting dinner. Lying on my bed, watching Oprah, and in comes my nine year old son, Rhett. Giggling, he says, "Mom is it okay if you swallow a quarter?" "What?" I responded. More giggling. "Will a person be okay if they swallow a quarter?" More giggling. I say "Rhett, did you swallow a quarter?" "Yea" he says. By now my youngest son, Gabe comes running into the room, stands next to his brother and says "I saw him swallow a quarter, Mom!" So here comes the dilemma....I can't stop laughing! I am trying to go over the events that preceded the "ingestion" and I can't hardly ask the questions because I can't stop laughing. I mean really?...a quarter? That just is not that easy to do. You really have to be trying in order to swallow a quarter! Especially if you are nine!!! So somehow I manage to establish that he swallowed a quarter while running down the hallway trying to hide money from his brother. (Although the story has since changed a few times.) And I already know what you mothers of 3 or less children are thinking... WHERE WAS HIS MOTHER!! (Actually, I think I was thinking that too.)

So I make a phone call to my mother who looks it up on the web and says "I think it will come out if it went in." So when Thane got home we had the parental discussion about what things are appropriate to put in one's mouth (like food!), and what things are not (like money!). Then we went to bed. Today, when I got to work, I asked one of the doctors what he thought about my son's money ingestion. He laughed and told me that his son (now 25) had done the same thing when he was 10. (This ended up being the most comforting statement of my day.) He said it took him a month to pass it. Oh well, we'll wait with much anticipation....I'll keep you posted!

Monday, January 5, 2009

Here goes it!

Well, here we go...This represents my first official blog post. Now don't get me wrong I have had many posts in my head but this is the first one that makes it to text. I am a blissfully, happily married mother of five sons. That, in itself, is enough to keep anyone busy. I am also an operating room nurse, a daughter, a sister, a friend and most importantly a daughter of the One Most High! I love the Lord and strive to live a Christ centered life. Some who will read this know that the last is the most challenging part! Loving the Lord is easy, living it out is glorious!

Thane is my husband, my soul mate and love of my life. Our boys, Brey (14), Keller (12), Aubrey (10), Rhett (9), and Gabriel (7) are our biggest blessing. Our home is full of swords, guns, legos and fishing poles...not a doll to be found! I cannot imagine our family being any different, God's design is perfect, and I am so thankful for His design for my family. We have a dog (who is also male) named Elmer. We recently relocated and are enjoying our new surroundings and our new start.

Today is a day off from work for me, pretty rare, really. The kids are at school and Thane is at work and suddenly it dawns on me that I have time by myself! This is so rare that it took me awhile to notice it. So after enjoying some coffee and a walk with my friend, I decided to enjoy the time alone. It used to be uncomfortable for me to be alone. I am a very social person and love to be around people. For many years I panicked if I found myself with time alone. But recently I have experienced a spiritual "re-birth". I have known Jesus as my Savior since I was a child. But I had never really experienced a relationship with the Lord til very recently. Since He lifted my head during a very difficult time, and reminded me of His unconditional love for me, I have walked more closely with Him than ever before. It has been remarkable to me that all along He was there, but I wasn't seeking. He just waited for me...patiently. It brings tears to my eyes to think of Him waiting for me. Knowing that I would come, but also knowing I would have to be broken first. When I got to the end of myself, I could really come back. He knew that. So He waited. That overwhelms me even now.

I still have so much learning to do, but for the first time in my life the Holy Spirit has filled me with an insatiable desire to seek my Savior and grow closer to Him. That is some of what my blog is about. It is also about a woman, who is special to her Savior and her family. A woman on a live better, love more and share the love of Christ with those lives she touches.