Thursday, November 6, 2008

Eyes Of Innocence and Wonder

In "Thoughts on Reverence and Wonder: The Eyes of a Child," I talked about my soon to be four-year-old daughter, Salina. I am always amazed at how she sees the world in all its glory, the way God intended it to be seen, and responds without any sense of guile or bewilderment. Just yesterday we stopped the car along a rural lane near our home to watch a group of wild geese circle a field, then land in a large pond. My daughter's eyes grew wide as she saw these birds gracefully glide almost silently on to the surface of the water. She sat there spellbound as she quietly took in this aspect of God's remarkable world.

My grandfather was in many ways my first spiritual director. Working as a game warden, a career that my father also pursued, he spent most of his time in natural settings and he had this uncanny ability to see the intricate and interconnected patterns that were everywhere to be witnessed if a person only had "eyes to see." My grandfather often said that it was important to see each new day with what he called "fresh eyes." A deeply spiritual man, he rarely attended the Baptist Church where my grandmother was an active member. Instead, he often went off into the woods of north Alabama with one of us grandkids in tow, giving us his own version of Sunday School.

I don't say this to discount the importance of church-going, only to say that, for my grandfather, it was not a high priority. Coming from a family with a long tradition of Quakerism, my grandfather treasured silence and solitude and often told me that my "inner light" could best be seen on a calm lake or pristine mountaintop. According to my grandfather, the best way to rediscover my "fresh eyes" was to go into nature and go into "the sacred silence," then just notice what was going on around me. Yesterday, as I watched Salina as she "noticed" the geese as they went about their business, I understood deeply that she had "fresh eyes" and that most children possessed this significant talent, at least until they were educated out of it.

I also understood why my grandfather never said I needed to develop fresh eyes; he always said I needed to rediscover them. The childlike perspective of awe and wonder that we all possessed when we were young is still there. Our task, with the divine assistance of the Holy Spirit, is to go through the cognitive clutter we have all accumulated and find it once again.

On the way home I also recalled a passage from a remarkable little book, written by Jeanne Gowen Dennis. The book is entitled, Running Barefoot on Holy Ground and subtitled, Childlike Intimacy With God. A fine and educative book, "Running Barefoot" discusses the notion of having fresh eyes. Let's listen to the author:

"Why do children notice so many things that adults miss? Maybe being closer to the ground gives them an advantage. Perhaps it's because they're discovering the wonders of the world around them for the first, second, or twentieth time, and somehow the novelty has not yet worn off. Unlike most adults, little children also pay attention to details. We are so distracted by our responsibilities that we often miss what is right before us. Perhaps we should take regular walks with toddlers and let them lead us along. Still, we'll only learn to see through their eyes if we use the time to exercise our sight, not just our bodies."

Having Salina around has been a blessing in many wonderful ways, but one of the most beneficial spiritual lessons she has brought my way is helping me rediscover my fresh eyes helping me learn to see again. She has in some magnificent manner taught me the spiritual discipline of "noticing." For example, there was the time she looked into a clear night sky at a quarter-moon and said, "Look, it's just like my fingernail," or the occasion when she sat in wondrous rapture watching three butterflies flitting about on our back deck. As the two of us "noticed" the choreography of their airborne dance, I became aware that I was, for a few brief moments, actually seeing what was going on. It was, in a word, exhilarating.

All of this comes natural to children, but we adults must now somehow train ourselves to be open to the marvels God parades before us on a daily basis. It not only involves "slowing down to smell the roses," no it goes much deeper than that. In my experience, I have had to learn to live in my body again; allowing myself enough time to become reacquainted with my five basis senses and perhaps discover a few I didn't know, or more likely forgot, that I even had. In order to see like a child, I needed to rediscover how to experience life in the pristine clarity of the moment unsullied by morbid memories or future fears.

I not only needed to learn how to see I needed to learn how to be.

A good way to begin this process of rediscovery is by learning to pay attention to what is coming in through your senses. Pick on of your senses, say hearing, and go outside and just spend five minutes paying attention to what you hear the birds chirping in the trees, a distant plane overhead, a passing truck on the Interstate two miles away. Don't strain to do this; simply allow the sounds to come in and just notice them. Just allow them to be what they are and just allow yourself to just be. I have found it useful to spend about three days on each one of my senses and to keep a journal of my experiences. I record what I noticed and also what prevented me from being present to my surroundings. For me, as well as others I have taught to use this exercise, let the sense of vision be the last one you focus on. I can't explain why this seems to be the best way to do this, all I can say is, for the majority of people, it works best that way.

In conclusion, let me suggest one other thing that might seem a bit silly to you. You may, in fact, think this is childish. Yet, when you think about it, that's the whole point, isn't it. Try doing things the way a young child does them. Experiment with your body and your posture. What do I mean? I'll close with this quotation, again from Dennis' book:

"To see as children see, all our senses must be alert. New worlds open up when children exercise their power of sight. They see with fresh eyes fully, simply, and in intricate detail. Young children experience each new discovery to the fullest, first with their mouths, then with their hands and fingers, and finally with their whole beings. They "see" with all their senses and in every possible position: on their knees, on their stomachs, on their backs, upside down, backward, and sideways. They explore the world with eyes wide open, closed, or squinted; through drinking glasses or cellophane; from inside cabinets, under coffee tables, and even in mirrors."

If you apply these ideas you may, like my daughter Salina and the great poet William Blake, discover (rediscover) that you "hold infinity in the palm of your hand."

Dwight Turner is founder of LifeBrook International, a ministry which produces and publishes web content on a variety of faith-based themes. LifeBrook International may be viewed at:

All material: (c) L.D. Turner/All Rights Reserved

Article Source: WRITERS

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

The little things

I was thinking today about what I could write for this blog and God brought to mind an experience I had earlier last week. I had been so frustrated with my hair since we have moved here. We have humidity that is more than anything I have ever dealt with and I have naturally curly hair that does go crazy in humidity. I felt like I was going to have to just go and get it all shaved off because I would go and wash it and have it look nice until I went outside to get in the car and I faced the weather for the day. I didn't like feeling so icky after I had taken the time to try and look nice and feel good before going about the day and being around other people. I finally realized that I needed to be praying about this. I thought it was really something that wasn't a big deal over some other things I needed to pray about, but I was getting frustrated enough that it didn't seem like there was anything else I could do at this point. I took this to God and he fixed it! Yes, he fixed it! You can not believe how happy I was to have this fixed. God brought to mind little ways I could make changes in the way I do my hair with products I already had. I didn't even have to go by any new products.

This reminded me that when I take the little things to God, He cares about those things too. He cares about these little things because He cares about us. He cares about the things that matter to us and the things that make us happy or sad, we matter that much to Him.

So then, I have tried to think about how this experience can affect another area of my life and help me in another area. I realize that as a mom, I am the most important human, earthly influence on my child, so I have to remember that even the very smallest things matter so very much to our children. Yes, I might be tired and worn out some days as most moms get, but the little things I do that day to help him feel loved and cared for make all of the difference in the world to him. I have been more aware of my son's need for me to notice the little things that are important to him when I realize and remember that God cares about all of our little details.

Friday, July 25, 2008

This is the Time

As I sat here listening to the song from Micheal W. Smith called " This is the Time" I thought about the last 2 years and the 18 months of the 2 years that we've been without my husband in the home.
The time my daughter needed her father for a father/ daughter dance for her senior year in high school. the time my son micah needed his dad to teach him how to march and salute for his Civil Air Patrol squadron and the time my youngest needed his dad to show him how to hit a ball with a bat. Things normal dads can be there for, many of our men miss.
I can go through the list of missed things over the years, but This is the Time! The time my husband's home and enjoy's my kids life, teaches my son finally how to march, dance's with my daughter in the middle of the living room with it all dolled up like a dance floor just for her. And just last night my husband out showing my little Elijah how to hit a ball. This is the Time! for my children to soak up their time with dad.
As military families sometimes it seems that time between is so little. We must look at the time we do have, rejoice in what is given and use what we got. Our kids learn what life is about, and how important family is by the way we use the time that is given when the service member is home.
So if your waiting for your husband again, or sitting right next to him at this very moment. Use every moment as if it was the last. Use every moment as a precious gift from God. Don't waste it on arguing and fussing at each other. Allow the time to be used toward growth as a family, toward love to each other and toward time not wasted. THIS IS THE TIME...

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Summertime Blues

By: Stephanie

So I know that summertime is intended to be full of easy days filled with fun. So why do I feel like I'm barely treading water.

I was thinking today that beside holidays, summer is probably the worst time for families during a deployment. There isn't the structure and busy-ness of school to keep everyone occupied. The days are definitely longer making it harder to keep little ones entertained. My dearest friend and I were discussing things that help keep kids happy and in return moms are happier too.

Summertime fun activites:
1. Take a walk. Take this time to reflect on God's creation. Talk to your kids about the things they see and hear.

2. Take a trip to the community pool or let the kids play in the sprinkler! This is always a big way to keep your children happy. (Not to mention, it's good at wearing them out!)

3. Visit your local library. Most libraries have summer reading programs with rewards. Even if your local library doesn't offer these type of programs, what's to say you can't offer your children rewards for reading!

4. Plan a special outing once a week. It could be to the park or even to their favorite fast food restaurant (with a playland, of course). Anything to get them out of the house into different surroundings is always nice. Kids get cabin fever, too!

5. Encourage playdates. Call up a friend and see if they would like to come over for coffee and let the children play. Not only does it give the kids someone different to play with, you have someone with whom to have an adult conversation. We all NEED that!!

I think it is very important not to wish away the summer (I am very guilty of that)! There is this song that I love. Some of the lyrics say, "Let them be little, 'cause there only that way for a while." That is so true. We need to enjoy our kids' summers because it won't be long before they are too old to want to be with us or are completely out of the house. Summertime doesn't have to be dreaded. It can and should be ENJOYED!

Happy Summer!!

Monday, June 9, 2008

Our children learn from us

Some of you know that I have recently started to read and do the study by Stormie Omartian; Power of a Praying Parent. I have been working on it for about 3 weeks now and God has been showing me what to work on in my life and also in how I raise Corey. What I am teaching him and the example I am setting for him and the habits I teach him that will make an impact on the rest of his life.

I was raised in a Christian family, we went to church on Sundays and we prayed at home, but we didn't have daily habits of reading the bible and doing devotions or a study of any kind. I have worked on and off in my adult life to try to focus on daily habits of this nature at home, but it has been challenging as a parent to do this sometimes. There are always distractions, if I let them be there.

God began to point out to me that I need to be daily working with Corey on a his bible and praying with him more than I currently do. I prayed that God would give me the push to do this daily with Corey in addition to daily doing my own time with God. I realize if I would have had this when I was a young child, I would have the habits already set in me from a young age. Instead, I struggle as an adult to stick to the daily time with God. So now I know that it is extremly important to help Corey set his habits now for his future when he will make his own choices when he is older.

I prayed about how I should be going about doing this with Corey so it would be successful and something that he would also gets in a habit of doing and want to do. So we have started to think outside of the box! Today we had a lot of fun with Corey's bible story! He brought me his guitar - it is a First Act guitar and it is for learning to play, but I have no musical ability -lol. I already knew that this would be fun even with my horrible singing and lack of guitar playing abilities. But it is beautiful music to the Lord because we are singing for Him and about Him. Corey also loves music, so it was great fun in that aspect too. I already had Corey's bible, so I sang the whole bible story and played the guitar while doing it. Corey was so excited and we talked and sang about the story afterwards.

I look forward to more fun learning adventures with Corey. I find I learned something from it too and there is great joy that comes from helping our children learn about God.

Some more ideas of what we do; singing songs about Jesus while he is taking a bath, doing our songs with sign language when he is swinging at the playground, take him on a prayer walk and teaching him how to pray for what he sees around him and thanking God for the pretty trees and the birds that are singing, etc.

I challenge you to start working daily with your children on reading their bibles and praying and thinking outside of the box!

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

The First Year...

My daughter just turned one at the beginning of April and of course I woke up and cried, all because my baby girl is growing up sooo fast. I keep asking my husband, "Does she ever have to grow up?" He replies, "Of course she has to!" I know that it may be a silly question, but it is very sad!

The day after my daughters' birthday she began sleeping in her own crib and her own room. I am soo happy that she began sleeping in her own room because we both sleep better! Even though I miss all of the cuddling time it is time for to gain a little independence. Hehe...

The first year of her life has flown by for me and I just hope that the next 18+ years do not go by as fast. It is such a precious experience to bring another life into this world, to watch them change day by day, and to witness all of their accomplishments.

Enjoy your children ladies!!!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

What’s in a Name?

By Colleen

I’m going to delve a little into my past on this one, and it may be a bit long but stick with me here, I think it may be worth reading.

I often tell people either Jesus is real or I am not. See I am from a family who I suppose meant well but by most people’s standards I was a doomed child. Alcoholic parents, from alcoholic parents, my father quit school in 9th grade and never made a lot of money (even though he was a chef) and my mother left when the 4 kids were entering their teen years. Shortly after my sister died and from there it just goes on and on and on……

Sounds like a really bad Lifetime movie or something doesn’t it? Truthfully, it was worse being one of it’s stars, trust me on this. Our family was not exactly the best in the neighborhood. We moved a lot and my older brother was always in trouble. I started drinking with him by the age of 12 and the world had a lot of names for a kid like me from a family like mine who lived a life like I did. Trash? No good? Worthless?

When I ended up pregnant at 17 and married I am sure it just cemented that opinion in the eyes of the world. A statistic waiting to happen? Teen Mom? Slut? Tramp? You get the picture; harsh yes but lets be real here, there is a reason these things are said, because statistically they do happen to lump together for the most part and I was doing a bang up job of living up to the these expectations.

When my husband moved me to our first duty station in Kansas, I was completely unaware it would be to find my salvation. It was while he was away for the Gulf War I was saved watching the 700 Club in the middle of the night.

It took some time, but eventually I did develop a walk and a relationship with the Lord and it made such a difference. I began through the reading of scriptures to understand I was a NEW creation, no longer those old things.

However, it was not until the late 90’s when a song written by Dennis Jernigan touched my heart and really opened my eyes to what a name means. I went to the Night of Praise in Edmond OK with PWOC and he sang This is My Destiny (I really encourage you to find this if you can) and I actually bought the CD as soon as it was released.

In the song Dennis Jernigan sings the names the Lord speaks over us all through out His word. He calls us warrior, new creation, trophy of His grace, righteous, beloved, tells me he delights in me, and so on. I began to truly understand what was in the things we named upon our children.

Now, because of my past, I have never been harsh in how I spoke over my children or others for that matter but after listening to this song and yes, allowing it to bring healing to a wounded child who still lived in me, I began to truly understand those hard things we as parents speak to our children can bring harm to a childs spirit in so many ways.

It is so important that we not only speak the love of the Lord over our children but also, stop other people from speaking horrible things as well. Do I believe what we speak happens? To a degree yes. Because we plant a seed in a child’s mind that grows and allows them to believe that is what they are. When they hear they are no good, they believe it. When they hear they are difficult, then they act it because they believe they are.

So today I encourage you, speak truth, love and mercy over your children daily. Never allow another parent to speak things which will wound your child either. I am not saying have a brawl but stop it the conversation, walk away, do what it takes. Know their weaknesses and grow them but don’t allow their destiny to be what I thought mine was or what you may have thought yours was because of the careless and hurtful words planted by someone.