The memory keeper

There is this mythical parenting truth when it comes to pictures. It has often been said that when your first born comes along, you snap away. Not wanting to miss a single moment. With others that follow. Not so much.

I have scrapbook upon scrapbook of my oldest. Sports scrapbooks. Scrapbooks filled with field trip memories. School memories. Summer vacation memories.

You know, scrapbooks filled with pictures that often had to be printed from a roll of film.

I have maybe three of my middle. A total of one for my youngest. Barely completing that one’s baby scrapbook.

I didn’t stop capturing memories behind a lens. But as the kids grew, the lens changed. The media changed, and the method of storage did as well. Pictures that once filled creative albums now take up space on a digital album. Often on some phone app I rarely look at.

All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. Psalm 139:16

I may take those scrapbooks off the shelf once in a blue moon (meaning not often at all). I may see an old digital memory on my Facebook highlights one morning that brings back some nostalgia.

But those pictures are not the memories. The days in our book are.

And while I will still take pictures, and I do believe that they will tell a story long after we are gone…I don’t believe they are the memory keepers.

The memory keepers are those moments that are never captured on your iPhone camera roll, but that you still talk about over breakfast.

They are the things for which we have no negative, but we can still remember in vivid detail.

Like watching babies sleep. Being hugged super tight. Rocking chairs on front porches. The book long after it is read. Recounting funny moments with friends over and over. The moment of your child’s birth. The moment you saw those lines. The moment they said, “Mommy.” “Daddy.” “Granpop.” “Grandma.”

These are the moments Kodak, Facebook, Instagram, or the iPhone can’t come close to retelling. These are the moments that don’t make the scrapbooks, but that live on even still. That are written down on the tablets of our hearts and minds to be shared for years to come.

My Go To Therapist

This I declare about the Lord: He alone is my refuge, my place of safety; he is my God, and I trust him. Psalm 91:2

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There is something therapeutic about spending time in the salon. If the completely selfish date with oneself is not enough to make you feel better, than certainly the head massage that magically soothes a migraine, the silky feeling of a blowout, or how fabulous you look when you first walk out the front door can add to the appeal of a day spent getting pampered for a bit. Add to this a few minutes of talking to your “head” therapist about life, kids, and your daily gripes, a few hours in the salon chair can be a much needed escape from an otherwise crazy reality.

Besides the fact that I was in desperate need of a cut and root touch-up this past weekend, the few hours I spent in a chair, or under a dryer were definitely a reprieve from the dark mood that had taken over my spirit that very morning. I needed to get out of the public for a while, and chat up the stylist, or my “head” shrink for the day.

And, it sure is a good thing I had decided to leave Facebook alone for a while, because on this particular morning, or the entire day for that matter, I certainly wanted to let everyone know what kind of morning I had. I left my wallet AND phone at home, and discovered this after I had pulled into the gas station, on empty, mind you. I was now 15 minutes late, behind a log truck, stuck in horrendous traffic thanks to the arrival of students and parents, and by 9:15, I was fed up with anything and anyone who happened to cross my path.

Once I pulled up in front of the place responsible for my once a month “me” sessions, I could not wait to tell someone about my crummy morning. 

And for about 3 hours I chatted to my stylist about my life, my kids, and my gripes.

Then I thought about something.

I had not once chatted with God about what I was feeling. And, I have certainly never chatted with him for 3 hours!

I cry out to God: yes, I shout. Oh, that God would listen to me! When I was deep in trouble, I searched for the Lord. Psalm 77:1-2

While, there is nothing wrong with a little beauty shop therapy, God wants me to communicate and share my struggles with him with the same intimacy and intentionality with which I share them with my stylist. He already knows what my struggles are. He already knows my gripes. He already knows about my kids, my life, and my circumstances.

And, he also wants to be my therapist. He wants to be the first person I seek when I need a few selfish “me” moments to share gripes, praises, and requests. 

He wants me to seek Him when I want to blow-up in traffic. He wants me to seek Him when I want to scream in the car on the way back home for my missing wallet. He wants me to lean on Him when I just can’t handle one more thing. He is just as selfish about His time with me, as I am about my “me” time under the dryer. 

No, God can’t touch up my roots, but He can definitely touch up my mood. God can’t trim my dead ends, but he can groom the frazzled pieces of my heart. And, while my stylist may require an appointment for the three hours I spend in her chair, God never requires that I make an appointment with Him, just that I make Him my go to therapist. 

 

More than a Dirty Sock

“Anyone who welcomes a little child like this on my behalf is welcoming me.” Matthew 18:5

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“And, the first Camp Hall of Fame Award goes to Pastor January!”

I had survived my first church camp experience. I was also exhausted, was losing patience, and really wanted to get on the bus and head back home. Clearly, I could not be entered into any Hall of Fame.

“Pastor January, come accept your Dirty Sock Award.”

Sure, gladly! I’ll be honored. But wait a minute…you were not joking. Um, this really is a dirty sock!

But, is that all? Is it more than just a dirty sock?

This dirty sock could represent all the other dirty socks I picked up this week. Socks that were scattered in the rooms and halls. Socks that were worn by 13 7 to 9 year old girls. The ones left in bathrooms. The ones left by pools. This sock could represent all the dirty undergarments I picked up. The many trips back and forth for forgotten items, missing flip-flops, missing towels. It could represent all the “Oh no, I lost my water bottles.” The “Pastor January, I left my sunscreens.” The lack of sleep. The cold showers. The chaos that is kids camp.

And, well…it could just represent a dirty sock.

One that I realized was so important to me, that I went back to pull it from the trash.

This sock actually represents more than the sleepless nights, unfollowed directions, or misplaced water bottles. Instead, it will represent love, patience, and the joy of being completely intentional with my time.

This dirty sock represents the time I got to spend loving on kids that were not my own. Some I had never met before this week. Some I may never see again. Many who had never been to camp. Many more who had never spent more than a night away from home. This sock represents the fifth time I had to sing “Silent Night,” and “You Are My Sunshine.” The few nights I had to wake up to rub the head and back of a homesick child. The bloody noses I doctored. The tears I wiped away. The laps that held many kids that were bigger than me.

This sock represents loving the hurting, soothing the broken, and calming the scared. Putting my own needs aside just to be there for a child.

A sock that represents lessons on patience, and Lord, how I needed it. Patience when things didn’t go as planned. Patience to wait on a child for the tenth time, even when we are late…again! Patience when the same child has spilled her juice…again! Patience when 13 tired little girls get cranky, whiny, and mean.

This dirty sock represents putting down the phone and simply “being” for a while. It represents unplugging all my electronics, silencing my cell phone, and plugging in to being a kid again. Letting kids splash you at the pool even though you know your hair may turn green. Enlisting yourself as a partner in a water race, even though you don’t have a bathing suit on, simply so a child isn’t left out. Or paddling twenty times in circles around a small fishing lake in a paddle boat covered in blue dye with a child who wants to steer while you do all the paddling. It’s getting sprayed in the butt with a water bottle, being drenched with a bucket of ice cold water, and being completely OK with it. Because you know it makes these kids happy.

Because you know it makes God happy. Because you know that this “being,” the love, the patience shown to a child represents Him. The one who loves these children as you do.

It represents being there. With no agenda. With no inhibitions. Without checking phone messages, emails, or texts.

This sock represents the desire despite the sleepless nights, the cold showers, or spider bites, to do it all over again.

To wipe tears. To band-aid blisters. To walk back to the pool for the tenth time to locate a small pair of dirty socks.

It represents what I want to bring home to my own kids. The gift of love, patience, and time.

Without an agenda. Without inhibitions. Without the constant chime of a cell phone.

Getting dirty in the front yard. Wiping more tears. Getting sprayed in the butt with a water bottle. Taking time to be there. Present with them. Engaged with them. Focused on them. Loving them. All while I patiently pick their dirty socks up off the floor.

Loving every minute of it. Of these children, this time, and this gift God has given me.

Knowing that this gift is more than just a dirty sock.