Monday, July 28, 2014

And Suddenly....

I was thinking about this phrase, "And suddenly..." a lot lately.  It's something that I hold onto when I can't see how a situation or circumstance can be transformed.  I realize that I can't have all the answers and some I may not know or may not have any idea how they will work out, but I can hold onto the belief that things are moving, working, transforming all the time.

I can think of several times in my life when I've been in a position that I felt was "stuck" or in a storm and not knowing what would happen next but knowing that something would have to happen and then "suddenly" things changed.

One such time that I recall was when I was 23 or so and I was pregnant with Tyler. I'd lost my job and had morning sickness so bad that I couldn't even work at temporary jobs b/c I kept getting sick and having to leave.  I had interviewed with an attorney to be his assistant and he had told me that he didn't want to hire me b/c I was too bright and I would not stay working for him very long. He said I could do so much more.  I didn't try to convince him otherwise. As bad as I needed a job, I'd just about lost all hope and didnt know what was my next move b/c well rent was going to be right around the corner and my savings were meager.  And while I was in the midst a couple of weeks later of sitting in my apartment trying to figure out what I was going to do, my phone rang and it was that same attorney telling me he wanted to hire me and when could I start?  In one moment, I'd been discouraged and losing hope and without a plan and suddenly one phone call was changing the circumstances all around.

This phone call wasn't just an answer to my immediate needs, doing that job and making connections and getting experiences with him led to even more opportunities in the future. Learning those legal skills also led me to my current occupation.

I think sometimes we are wanting an answer to an immediate "Small" problem when God is preparing answers and opening doors to bigger opportunities than we thought we needed.

In 2007, I began to get bored with living in Baton Rouge. I wanted to do something more. I wanted to earn more. I wanted to be able to provide more experiences and a better life for Tyler.  I also wanted more of a challenge career wise.  I didn't go the traditional routes of applying for new positions. But one connection, a letter and a telephone interview changed our circumstances.

While I was trying to figure out a plan to be able to move to Dallas, I received a call one afternoon while I was at work. I remember stepping out of the office to take the call. And it was a job offer here and they were asking me how soon I could be here and ready to start.  And suddenly.... I was hanging up and making plans to pack up my life and relocate my family to a place that i'd never even visited.

When Kayden was a baby, I wrote a blog about dads. I posted a photo of him and his dad. And in that blog I wrote that even if things didn't work out for us as a couple, I was sure that he'd always be apart of Kayden's life.  When I wrote that blog, that was my genuine belief.

When Kayden was about 6 months old, I ended the relationship. He moved out. Things were turned upside down.  And the months that followed I remembered that blog that I'd written and I'd felt so foolish and dumb for thinking that I knew his heart and knew that no matter what he would be a great dad.  And as I looked around at my circumstances, it seemed like I was wrong.

There were long periods of no contact.  Kayden was growing up and developing and in the past he was who I'd shared his developments with and now he didn't even know what Kayden was doing from one day to the next or any milestones in his life.  And while I'd previously felt that I wouldn't be shouldering the burden of raising him alone, for some time I was.

My original prayer was always that he would be a great father to Kayden.  And throughout those rocky times, my prayers changed. I'd go from him being a good father and being a coparent to not even mentioning him and just asking for wisdom and strength to handle being a parent alone.  But throughout the time, I'd always pray that my heart be open and that his heart be open to God's plan for us as parents.

Even this year has been rocky. Perhaps not as rocky as last year but still rocky.  But I believe things are turning the corner.  More of that "And suddenly.."

I recently spoke to someone who is at the beginning of "walking in my shoes,"  and I try to give her encouragement to know that no matter what is going on around her, to keep her prayers for her child consistent and be open to wisdom and hearing from the Holy Spirit.

We can have situations tugging at our hearts for years causing much pain and deep wounds and then one day we can wake up and "suddenly" he's turned it around for us.  Just because we can't see it doesn't mean he's left us to do the job alone.. He's always with us, working things out and sometimes better than we could have asked.  While we may be asking for an immediate small thing, there may be a hold up b.c he's doing something even bigger and better.

Whenever you are feeling stuck and like nothing is changing and getting better or maybe you see things getting even worse, hold onto to this phrase, "and suddenly" and know that he has the power to turn it all around.

Note:  This is a photo of Kayden and his dad at Panther's Fan Day recently..

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Random Thoughts

  • A few years ago, I was having a conversation with Ladylee and we were talking about anger. She said something about anger is really hurt and you have to examine why you feel angry and what transpired that caused you to be hurt.  Now I'm sure she didn't use those exact words but you get the gist of it.  Every since she's said that,whenever I am "angry" with someone, I will go back and ask myself what occurred. Usually it stems from some type of expectation that I had that they didn't meet.
  • The older I get, the more I examine the why behind whatever it is that I am feeling and I can't say that I'm really angry but moreso hurt feelings or disappointed.
  • Someone recently did something that threw me for a loop. I've been trying to think about their logic in it and coming up blank. They finally reached out to me.  But when I was honest with myself the result was that I assumed/felt that our relationship was closer or more significant than it they did.  And that's ok, it just lets me know how to manage my expectations going forward.
  • I'm still thinking about this quote that I read, "One day I will look back and this gaping wound will just be a scar."  And this quote is probably one that I will have as my favorite quotes for a long time. Why? B/c there are many times in life when something happens that at the moment it happens it is painful and may be deep hurt, but if we continue moving forward and keep desiring to heal, one day we will turn around and realize it's not such a big wound anymore. Yes, there is a scar there and we won't forget it but it isn't something that is affecting our present and our future.
  • I have written before about Kayden not having a relationship with his paternal grandparents.  And I also have written numerous times about being a kid and being slighted by my paternal grandparents.  I remember coming home from the hospital on July 5th when he was born. I remember me and his dad having a big argument. Why? B/c I realized when i got home that I had cards and well wishes and lots of phone calls from all of these people who love and care about us, but not one call or card from his parents.  And at that very moment in that argument it reminded me of my own childhood and how my grandparents treated me.
  • When you are a parent, you always want to protect your children from any hurt that you can.  And this topic is one that has been sensitive for me.  But that didn't mean I didn't pray about it.  Not in a way in which I've prayed that they desire a relationship with Kayden. But moreso that I'm always hard to offend and easy to forgive and that my children's relationships with all of their family will be reconciled and that they will be able to grow up as healthy whole kids who have always felt loved.
  • However God manages to do that, with or without someone's presence is fine with me. But I just know the end results that I'm praying for without ceasing.
  • A couple of weeks ago, I opened the mail and Kayden had a birthday card from his paternal grandfather.  That same week there was a death in their family and his grandfather had to be in Charlotte and he was able to meet him.  I have a photo of the two of them so I will include his card and photo in Kayden's scrapbook.
  • This reminds me that things may not always happen in my time frame but God is always working on my behalf and I have to trust him and the process.
  • As you know, I'm always trying to manage Tyler's academic journey and making sure that he has the best experiences that I have the ability to give and making sure that he does his best.  I also wrote about previously about how he should have been in honor's classes last year but was not.  And how I didn't find this out until the end of the year basically.  I applied for him to go to two charter schools next year and also did the lottery for him to attend my first choice middle school.  
  • He recently got into one of the charter schools but after thinking about it more, I declined their slot b/c they are too new and too many unknowns.  But yesterday I received a call from my first choice middle school and he has gotten in for this upcoming year.  It really caught me off guard but after I really processed it, I realized it is what I've asked for in my prayers since elementary school.. 
  • I was worried that he would voice objections b/c he'd be going to school away from his neighborhood friends and really kids hate change at this age. But he was fine with it. He has met a few kids from church and his summer camp that go to this school so he told me he was ready.  I really appreciate his good attitude about this.
  • Last night we were talking about his expectations and whether he was scared or excited and what he thought about it. He told me he wasn't worried about making friends b/c he's "charismatic."  ~eyeroll~
  • I could go on and on about recent answers to prayers that I have seen but I'll stop and save more for another day.  Just be encouraged that God is always listening.. 

Tuesday, July 22, 2014


I've been studying the life of Paul.  I've heard the story of his transformation on Damascus Rd. before and I knew that his name changed from Saul to Paul, but I wanted to get a refresher.  One of the good things about personal bible study is that I always learn something new or have a new insight on something I may have read before.

So just a little background, Saul was a Jewish man who did not believe in Jesus Christ. He was spending a lot of time and energy persecuting those who did believe in Jesus. He actually went to a High Priest and requested the authority and permission to find believers and chain them up and bring them back if they they were found to be believers.

As he was traveling looking for believers to imprison is when he had the "Damascus Rd." experience.  This is when he fell to the ground and heard a voice asking him why he was harrassing and persecuting.  He was actually blinded, even though the passage says his eyes were open for a period of a few days.

The Lord spoke to a disciple named Ananias and gave him instructions to go to where Saul was and lay hands on him so that he would regain his sight and also be filled with the holy spirit. Ananias had already heard of Saul and how he was persecuting believers. He responded, "I have heard many people tell about this man, especially how much evil and great suffering he has brought on your saints in Jerusalem. Now he is here with authority to put chains on all who call upon your name."  

Essentially Ananias was saying, "Hey, I've heard of this evil man and he has the authority and the reputation of causing problems for any believers and I don't want to be anywhere near him."  And really this is an understandable position.   The Lord's response to Ananias was, "Go! For this man is a chosen instrument of mine to bear my name before the Gentiles and kings and the descendants of Israel."

So I've been thinking about Saul/Paul's transformation. And I'm thinking about a man who was driven to persecute those who were believers. And yet, in the blink of an eye he was changed. He was transformed.  And even when Ananias was still afraid of him and didn't want to be anywhere around him, he was told "This man in chosen..."  This is a reminder that we have no control over who God may chose as an instrument in our lives.  AND he truly has the power to transform someone completely.

There are times when I remind myself that there is nothing too big or too hard for God and then there are other times that situations or even people are just "written off" in my mind.  No situation is so bad that God cannot fix it if he so chooses.  

I have had some situations that I may not have said I wrote them off, but in my heart I had resolved that they were a lost cause. Things that I'd previously prayed about consistently but stopped. And out of the blue, things shifted.  

So for me it is a good time to re-read about Saul/Paul's life and ministry. It's a great reminder that God can turn things completely around when you least expect it.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Your Presence

Last week we had Vacation Bible School at church.  I use to love VBS as a child and it's one of the things I always want my kids to grow up having experienced. I can tell that Tyler enjoys his classes, whether they are Sunday school or some other special event at church. I've noticed he has made friends with other guys his age and so when we get to church, he always goes his separate way.  Sometimes I'll pass his friends and they always say, "Hi Ms. Conerly."  I'm glad that he's starting to feel "at home" and apart of this church.

There are times when I miss my old church. I grew a lot spiritually there and I always loved the other classes I took. My current church doesn't have as many classes, but it's much better for children's events.

We use to attend Wednesday night bible study frequently and i fell off with doing that in recent months. But I've decided we are going to start back going.  This past week at VBS, I was in an adult class. After class one of the ladies came up to me and hugged me and told me she missed seeing us on Wednesdays. Now just a little background. I don't know her name and I'm sure she doesn't know mine. Her child and Kayden are usually the only two kids in the nursery on Wednesday nights. So we always saw each other dropping off and picking up our kids. We speak in passing but had never held a conversation.

As we were talking, she was telling me that she hasn't been to Wednesday night service in a while b/c one of her other kids was in sports. So basically we hadn't seen each other b/c both of us had been missing. What was interesting is that we didn't know each other and never talked but I guess we missed each other's presence.

My church is very large and considered a mega church. So there's 3 possible times you could go to Sunday worship. I never saw her there b/c she goes either earlier or later.  But one of the things that was interesting was she asked me why I never come to Sunday School. I told her that I attend service at the same time that Sunday school goes on.  So she was telling me about their Sunday school class. There are a few different ones depending on your stage in life. There's a regular class, young adult one and one for married couples.  She attends the married couples class. The way that she was telling me about it was like she wanted me to come. And as she was talking I started wondering if she thought I was married?   And why she thought this b/c I'm sure she's never seen me with a man at church lol.

But this conversation just made me think about one of my concerns when I joined this church. It was a better fit for the kids but it was also large and I worried about not feeling like there is a community or like they are family b/c it's so big. This encounter with her was just a reminder that even in a large place, you can still have "community."  

This week at VBS as I was waiting on Tyler, I saw his teacher walking with him. And I was thinking, "he better not be in trouble."  She was actually coming to meet us. She said she's taught tyler in Sunday School for a while and he always talks about his little brother AND asks for snacks for his little brother also and she wanted to make sure he actually had a little brother lol.  I was glad she took the time to come and meet me and Kayden. It just further confirms that now we've been apart of this church about a year and a half and members for about a year and yes, we do have a sense of community and family.

I think I mentioned before that I love listening to the messages from Elevation church online weekly. Well yesterday I asked Tyler if he wanted to check it out. Sometimes he will listen to the messages and ask me questions. He also has a few friends from school who attend this church.   And so we went.

I can say that the church is very welcoming to guests/visitors.  We got special parking, a VIP thing and tshirts.  I enjoyed the message just as I thought I would but I also could not see myself feeling "community" there.  And that's ok. Every church isn't for everyone.  Tyler did ask if he can participate with their church in an upcoming event they're having for middle and high schoolers so I'm going to allow him to do that. It will be a good experience for him.

I'm curious about you. If you were absent from your church for a while, would anyone notice?  When you notice that someone is away, do you ever reach out to them?  Do you feel a sense of community at your church?

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Nurture & Environments

The home daycare that Kayden goes to has lots of flowers. The front of the home is full of pretty roses and the back yard looks like a flower garden. There are roses of all colors, benches, water spouts, etc. It's a very peaceful environment.  His daycare provider loves flowers and tends to them very diligently.  Kayden is with her from about 8-430 Monday thru Friday.

I bought fresh flowers on Tuesday.  Whenever I buy fresh flowers, I notice kayden looking at them. Sometimes he tries to touch them and sometimes he sniffs them.  This photo was snapped yesterday. He climbed up on the table and I noticed he was sitting quietly with his eyes closed just smelling the roses.

I've been thinking about his appreciation for little things like flowers. I believe that the environment that he is in influences the things that he pays attention to.  And I'm sure the daycare probably stops to smell her flowers when she takes the kids out to play. And he's started doing this as well.

Kayden is very affectionate.  I'm sure that other toddlers his age are also big on hugs, kisses and overall affection. Maybe I pay more attention to the things he does b/c I'm older and this isn't my first time being a mom or maybe I just have a different mindset now than what I had when I was a younger mom when Tyler was the same age. But he seems to value affection.

Of course he's a "normal" two year old which means he has lots of tantrums when things doesn't go the way he wants. Sometimes he cries before he says what he wants and Tyler and I simply look at him and ask him to use his words and tell us what is wrong. He's getting much better about this.

He receives lots of positive affirmations at home, at daycare and at the nursery at church each Sunday.  I'd say that other than having more time with his dad, the environment that I'm raising him in is optimal for our circumstances.

I'm always reflecting and correcting and trying to make sure that I am raising the boys in the best manner that I can. I've been thinking about the debate of nature vs. nurture and just curious to your thoughts on this?  How do you think nurture plays into how a child turns out vs nature?