Wednesday, November 26, 2014

And Now We are Five...Meet Cameron

When children enter your world, life takes on new meaning. Strollers, diapers, and scheduled feedings give way to cheerleading, soccer and piano practice. One day you turn around and she's coming through the door waving her left hand with lots of bling.

Along the way, you've been sending prayers to heaven on her behalf. You've asked the God you love to protect her, guide her, and guard her heart. You've prayed for the direction of her career, her teachers, her friends, and her life mate.

The entire time you're praying it seems like it's, "some day."

For my little girl, "some day," came this past year.

And four became five...
Cameron waltzed into her life and swept her off her feet. It was a storybook romance. They dated a short time and married this summer. I'm now a mother-in-law...a title I hadn't prepared myself for, but am enjoying.

As the holidays are upon us we have to navigate the blending of traditions with two families for the first time.

My new son-in-law and I sat down recently for lunch and I thought I'd share some of our conversation...with his permission of course.

As I've gotten to know him better, I've come to realize he is an answer to one of the prayers for my girl. And I give thanks.

Cameron grew up in Anderson, had a similar childhood as Bailey. He describes himself as, "extremely strong willed." (For anyone reading who has a child with a similar disposition, please be encouraged by what you're about to read.) He has two older brothers and says, "I really had three daddies because of the age difference between me and my brothers." There are seven years between him and his middle brother, Timothy.

He was active in sports as a young boy. Football and wrestling were his primary sports where he was a Three-Year Letterman in Football at Westside High School earning All-Region and All-Area his senior year. He was a Four-Year Letterman in Wrestling earning All-Region and All-Area twice in his high school career. He was runner-up in the SC State Wrestling Tournament his senior year.

His oldest brother, Stephen, went to The Citadel and Cameron says by sixth grade he knew he too, wanted to follow in his brothers' footsteps and attend this prestigious school. He loved the structure and discipline of their program. He said, "If you didn't pass you were the only one to blame."

Cameron with his second love
His childhood dream was realized when he entered The Citadel as a freshman knob. Cameron knew from the day he set foot on campus there was one more goal to be accomplished...The Summerall Guards. His brother, Stephen, was part of this elite group of men. This is a strenuous, six month training program, designed to weed out the weak. Cadets are not eligible until their junior year of study. Hundreds begin, sixty-one men are chosen at the end of the training period. Their service begins the first day of their senior year with a grand ceremony, a passing of the torch from one class to another.

Not only did Cameron pass all the tests and make the Guards, but he was elected to the same position as his brother of Supply Sgt., number three in rank. They are the only brothers in Citadel history to hold this position.

Cameron said The Cidadel prepared him for life. It taught him structure, discipline and responsibility. He is also a man of great faith. He was raised in a home where discipline, faith in God, and love went hand in hand. He said his mom and dad were a team. He trusted their advice on everything.

You may ask why I tell you all these things about my new family member. Well, there are several reasons. I write about family, my faith, my journey...the struggles AND the joys. My life has been a series of pain and happiness, joy and sorrow, thankfulness and regret. I've written a lot lately about my pain. I decided it was time to rejoice in something good. Cameron has been good for Bailey. As they say to one another, "They are God's provision for each other."

If you are in the throes of parenting, don't give up or in. The days of diapers and carpools will end quickly. Be on your knees, for one day you'll be watching her walk down the aisle or come out the side door and their short life will flash before your eyes. You'll say to yourself, "Did I do everything, teach everything, did I, did I, did I?"

My advice to you now that I'm on the other side is love them and be there for them. Pray for them. Ultimately, God is their keeper. He knew the intention of my heart and He knows the intention of yours. And in those times when we can't pray, His spirit does. He utters the prayers that we are too weary and broken to pray over our children. So be faithful and He will provide what your child needs when they need it.

He did for mine.

Thanksgiving is a time to remind us to count our blessings, to draw our attention to the One who provides, who heals, who protects, who saves.

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Happy Thanksgiving,

Thursday, November 6, 2014

When Bad Things Happen, Be Thankful

We often hear people ask the question, "Why does God allow bad things to happen to good people?"

This is a deep theological question that leaves most of us with our mouths gaping and no answer. We're rendered speechless and refer them to the local pastor or some kind of book, such as James Dobson's book on the subject. In fact, volumes have been written in an attempt to answer this dilemma that stretches back to the beginning of time.

I was reading Oswald Chambers this week and this sentence jumped out at me…

"Why shouldn't we experience heartache?"

He goes on to say, "Through those doorways God is opening up ways of fellowship with His Son. Most of us collapse at the first grip of pain. We sit down at the door of God's purpose and enter a slow death through self-pity. And all the so-called Christian sympathy of others helps us to our deathbed. But God will not. He comes with the grip of the pierced hand of His Son, as if to say, "Enter into fellowship with Me; arise and shine." If God can accomplish His purposes in this world through a broken heart, then why not thank Him for breaking yours?" Oswald Chambers

Ouch. I'm guilty of self-pity. And I don't like pain. How many of us do? I'm afraid I've collapsed at the door of pain many times and prevented my healing. 

He also describes a God who uses tough love on us to produce a child who can eventually, "arise and shine." His methods will differ with each child, just as we parent our children based on their personality and temperament. But we can rest in His unchanging and unconditional love while in the process.

I'm not there yet. I've a ways to go.

I'm beginning to understand how He can use a broken vessel much better than one that's never even had a crack. If you've never had a need, how can you empathize with one who's hurting. As He has put me back together, I want the affects of His love and mercy to pour through me and touch those whom I come into contact. There has to be a purpose for the messy life or it was all in vain. I don't believe He would've allowed it unless He planned to use it.

So this Thanksgiving season, I'm going to raise my hands in surrender and thank Him for a messy, broken life. He can use it however He chooses. 

How about you? Have you been broken and asked the question, "why?" You've done all the right things, played by the rules and life hasn't been fair? 

I've asked God that question my entire life and He was silent until now. Your answer will be different from mine. It's alright to ask, He's big enough for our questions.

Just know He loves you with a love that is holy and surpasses anything the human mind can perceive and He will be faithful. His promises have stood the test of time. And when He's finished, you'll be thankful for the brokenness, for without it, you wouldn't have needed Him as much.