Side Effects of Chasing Our Dreams

Chasing our dreams can be a thrilling, and frightening, experience. Months and years of preparation go into a product and then we put it on display for any and all who will partake. It’s a little misleading actually, because our daily lives aren’t finished products–only portions of our work are. So when people see or hear your product, they only see a portion of you; it is so easy for us all to fail to see people’s work as only a part of a whole and not a whole itself.

After launching Thirty Balloons: An Adoption Tale on Kickstarter and being a guest on the Read Aloud Revival Podcast (listen here), I can most certainly attest that finished products are one thing, daily life is another. The last two weeks have been thrilling and exhausting. As my husband and I seek to encourage others to add to their family through adoption and consider the orphan and children in foster care, it is a great time for spiritual warfare. For one example, without elaborating, the last two weeks have been extremely difficult in the parenting category for one of our children. Another example, we have had one case of the flu and one of strep throat the past week as well. You may also be pleased to know that laundry and home education didn’t take a vacation either.

However, one amazing side effect of launching a Kickstarter Campaign and putting myself out there so to speak, has been the effect on our two oldest children. When our children watch us attempt something that scares us, it encourages them to do the same. 

I recently read, Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis, by J.D. Vance. One take away from this book was J.D.’s feeling of not having the inside information afforded to higher income families. Even after completing law school at an Ivy League School, he still felt like somewhat of a poser. He knew the hillbilly culture from which he hailed, but didn’t know what he didn’t know until embarrassment or experience taught him. For example, he didn’t know to wear nice shoes and a jacket to an interview instead of army boots and a tucked in shirt.

Sometimes, it can seem that way even if you don’t share J.D.’s cultural history nor broken family background. It may feel as if everyone else has an instruction manual that somehow you missed out on. Like there is a world-wide memo system that wasn’t afforded to you.

However, when our kids see us reaching for goals and dreams that make us uncomfortable, and for which we are on a significant learning curve, it’s like we are handing them that memo, that instruction manual—and they don’t even realize it. Our experiences while our children are in our homes becomes a continual testament to them about how life works. How trial and error, efforts and failures, all come together. Our pursuits, in ways we cannot see, inform them as to what is possible for them to attempt.

Last week, my two oldest children were working, by their own endeavors, to write books of their own. When my oldest son tells me, “I am going to publish my book. Remember how I was going to have you just type it out on the computer and print two copies off? Well now I want to publish it like your book mom.”  My oldest daughter turns to him and says, “How are you going to do that?” “Kickstarter!” he replies.

Kickstarter! That’s a word that I didn’t even know until January of this year. Now my 8-year-old son is plotting to publish his first book on Kickstarter.

Your dreams and current goals very likely look different from mine. That’s not important. The point is, that in reaching for your God-given dreams and goals, your are influencing and informing your children and your community. You are exemplifying what is possible when you push past comfort zones and fear, and that is a beautiful side effect.

 

 

Pre-Order My New Children’s Book on Kickstarter

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Performance Pressure

Have you ever experienced stage fright even in an off stage moment? Your desire to perform well was overwhelming to the point of paralysis. Instead of giving your best, you fell short of even attempting your goal at all. My son recently had an experience like that.

Our children began ice skating lessons a week ago. I’ll tell you, there is nothing more precious-at least to date-than seeing my daughter and son attempting to skate. They look like little penguins starting to waddle on the ice. The faces they, along with their friends, make during their first attempts on the ice are priceless.

It is amazing to see how the children tackle the challenge of gaining their footing and making ground on new turf. Some of the children flail and zoom as fast as they can from point A to point B, with little care whether they fall while making it across. Form and beauty play no role in their thought processes; rather, let’s do this is the self-talk ringing in their minds.

Then you have the apprehensive ones. The ones (as in the case of my children) who aren’t willing to let go of the teacher for a moment for fear they will fall or fail in their advancement across the ice.  Gracefulness or success is close to the last thing on their mind either; survival from one side of the rink to the other reigns supreme.

With the two beginners attitudes towards learning to skate, I think the focus is on two different planes; group one is motivated by success, group two by fear.

The first week my son attempted everything the teacher asked of him; albeit with fear and apprehension written over his face at least 15 or 20 minutes of the 30 minute class. The second week, my husband came to watch the kids, and our son uncharacteristically started crying and wanted to leave his class and sit with his mommy.  We thought he was scared of the ice and may be too tired or experiencing a sugar crash from his birthday pie and ice cream that I had made him for breakfast. Maybe, we pondered, he was a little nervous having his daddy there to watch him for the first time.

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Later on, we would discover that the later thought was correct. Our son was worried that his attempts wouldn’t be good enough and therefore he stopped trying at all. All he could think about was getting to his mommy who would be waiting with hugs and kisses. In this case, both Ron and I weren’t letting our son off the ice until the class ended. We wanted him to give his best; even if his best meant trying with the aid of the instructor the entire time. For us, and I propose for the Father, our efforts are what matter. The heart that says, I am afraid, but I will face my fears and give my best, that is the heart that God delights in. That is the heart that we as parents delight in seeing our children put into visible action.

Our daughter was tempted to follow her brothers lead and stop and stand on the sidelines, but she dug in and decided to keep trying. In the end she stayed after class for free skate and hugged the wall off and on around the rink 10 times! That is effort that deserves praise. Was she up to speed with other skaters her age who had taken lessons longer, or peers who left the security of the wall earlier than she? No. However, she pushed past her own fears and insecurities and in that found confidence and reward that will push her farther the next time on the ice.

Approaching our car, our son told me-after a little prompting-with head down and shoulders slumped, “I was afraid dad wouldn’t like my skating.” Wow. That he could articulate his feelings was remarkable. More surprising, even though it shouldn’t have been, was the fact that fearing he wouldn’t impress the most important man in his life lead him to quit trying. Ron is an encouraging and patient father beyond any other I have ever met, but our son still wanted to impress his daddy and feared not doing so.

Minutes after I sent Ron a text to let him know of our son’s fears, my phone rang. Ron called to reassure our son that he maintained his father’s favor and pride in him. Our son’s face lit up at simply the call from his dad and kept beaming even after the good news filled his five-year-old ears.

What about you? Is there a new task that you are attempting and the fear of falling short is tempting you to halt trying at all? Are you afraid that somehow you are going to let your Father down? Well, its a good thing that God doesn’t look at the outward appearances, but rather, He looks at our heart. When we give his calling on us our all, He sees the heart and the intentions of our heart beyond simply the success or failure of our feet, and He proudly cheers on His sons and daughters from the sidelines. He doesn’t compare us with our brothers and sisters in Christ, but rather looks simply at us individually and prods us to become more of who He created us to be.

 For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart. (1 Samuel 16:7b)

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Perseverance Required

Ever had one of those weeks where every other bite you put in your mouth just might be chocolate? Well…I am having one of those. There is an undercurrent in my emotions that has a twinge of anxiousness with a twist of exhaustion.

I always experience the urge to hurry. I rush through a walk from the parking lot the same as I have a major tendency to rush through life. I know that tasks will always be there, work will always have loose ends, and that as the water ripples it wrinkles time.

Yet, I continue to find myself saying, “Slow down, enjoy this moment. Enjoy the way the sun hits Emily’s hair. Remember how Little E looks in his big boy helmet while riding the firetruck. Cherish Joshua full of life as he says, “Mommy, did you see that?” after pushing his dump-truck down the hill for the 100th time.

Cooney Family - Nov_ 2012

The days are fleeting even as my mind flies in a hundred directions and my feet want to cancel the anxiously eaten chocolate with more miles logged on the treadmill.

I stop and breath a prayer asking, “What is it that I am anxious about?” He will answer…He always does…in His time.

Repeatedly I think, “Stay the course, pray the prayers, give the anxiety over to Him moment by fleeting moment and cherish the days.”

For those of you who have made a New Year’s Resolution towards good health, I would like to offer a suggested running/workout playlist. Running does help refocus my anxious energy. I have used a combination of these songs for the past year and continue to find them motivational. Perseverance is required; a peppy playlist makes all the difference for me. Don’t get me wrong, exercising is something that I absolutely enjoy (sorry for those of you who gag at the thought), but having motivational music is a must.

A heads up: all of this music is Christian and most is Christian rap. Here you go:

1. Wobble- Family Force 5

2. Me Without You- Toby Mac

3. Try Me- Flame

4. Running- Flame

5. Scripture Alone- Flame

6. Show Out- Flame

7. Robot- Trip Lee

8. Envy- 116 Clique

9. Responsibility-116 Clique

10 Transcend- Group 1 Crew

11. Spazz- Lecrae

12. Courage-116 Clique

13. Temptation-116 Clique

14. Cool down music of your choice. This one I rotate frequently.

Please send me some new running music suggestions. What makes your feet hit the pavement faster? What makes you decompress the concerns of your days?

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A Merging of Lives

 

 

Yesterday we had the privilege of joining in the celebration of a merging of two lives in marriage.  The union of man and wife is a covenant that reflects that of Christ and His Bride, the Church.

As we watched Tyler and his beautiful bride, Laura, exchange vows, I reflected on our own wedding ceremony. Funny how even the details of our wedding were a foretelling of the personality traits of each of us and the ways in which we would work out this life together. Yet on our wedding day I would propose that in comparison to present-day, I hardly knew myself, let alone the wonderful godly man that I was marrying.

Yesterday, the pastor said that our covenant relationship of marriage is one that we continue to choose to make each day of our lives. It is true; as our love and the years grow, so will our understanding of one another and ourselves, as well as our graces with both.

Today, if everything goes as planned,  our family will travel to be united with our first foster child. As we venture this new path together, merging our lives with that of another child and family, I pray God’s name is glorified and His people edified. This child will have a wonderful temporary daddy in my Ron. Of that there is no doubt. God placed adoption on my heart from a young age and he placed a man in my life that equally embraced the idea from the start.

We will not be walking down an isle as we start this newest journey together, but with each step, and the facing of the unknown, we will do what we have done in marriage and parenthood to date: grow, laugh, cry, fail, fall, be renewed and seek His face and wisdom through the scriptures.

Thank you for joining in the celebration with your prayers! I will see you back next Monday as I am taking the week off to get acclimated.

This home is temporary but the rewards of heaven in His presence are eternal. Press on and in.

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Planting Wheat Not Beanstalks

The well-known fairy-tale of Jack and the Beanstalk tells of a young boy who sells the family’s last cow for three magic beans.

While Jack’s beanstalk reaches the heavens in overnight success simultaneously gaining him adventure and wealth it does not provide him lasting value. Yes, he obtains a hen that lays golden eggs and a harp that plays beautiful music, but his adventure is quickly ended and only his temporary needs met.

What of Jack’s soul?

In planting the seed of God’s word in our children’s hearts we desire to plant a kernel of wheat that will one day produce “much fruit.”

Truly, truly, I say to you,  unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. 25 Whoever loves his life loses it, and  whoever  hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 26 If anyone serves me, he must  follow me; and  where I am, there will my servant be also.  If anyone serves me,  the Father will honor him. ~John 12:24-26

Many parents might look at their job as watering the planted word of God. Perhaps they consider the pastors and directors, the volunteers and teen workers at church to be the planters of the seed of God’s word.

I believe that some parents have Jack and the Beanstalk mentality. Sunday, Wednesday, and VBS+ Youth trips  then voila!…A fully matured fully devoted Christ-follower by age 18.

This is not the case.

Our job concerning tending the soil of our children’s hearts is an utmost priority. The church helps water the seeds we plant but we are charged with the task of cultivating the soil, planting the seed (on a daily basis), and ensuring that “weeds” (e.g. ways of the world) do not kill our crops.

Christ will make sure that the seed grows and matures. He has commanded us to tend it. Families and the church are the team God uses to do His work in the lives of our children.

  I planted,  Apollos watered,  but God gave the growth. 7 So  neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. 8 He who plants and he who waters are one, and each  will receive his wages according to his labor. 9 For we are  God’s fellow workers. You are God’s field,  God’s building. ~1 Corinthians 3:6-9

4 “Hear, O Israel:  The Lord our God, the Lord is one.[b] 5 You  shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. 6 And  these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. 7 You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. 8 You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. 9 You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. ~Deuteronomy 6:4-9

We as parents read the word of God to our children and our lives are the Bible they first experience. How we live conveys what we believe concerning the Bible, God’s grace, and the importance of living in obedience to His commands.

Noone and no family is perfect. Even in our imperfections the Lord chooses to redeem the souls of our children. Amen!

Last Wednesday Emily graduated from her first year as a Cubbie Bear in the Awana Program. She excitedly dressed for the final awards ceremony in a Sunday dress, Princess Aurora clip-on earrings, and a glitzy heart necklace. She and her fellow Cubbie Bear’s ecstatically received their awards complete with a painted glove conveying the gospel message.

Each week the Cubbies had been taught the corresponding verses with the gloves and they cherished their own glove awarded to them as if you had given them keys to their first car.

Thank you Ms. Diane, Ms. Melissa, and all the Cubbie leaders for watering the seedlings in your care each week. Our Cubbie Bear loved it!

Grandmom was one of Emily’s room leaders in Cubbie’s. Emily knew Grandmom would be there with a piece of gum to accompany each class.

  Next year Joshua will start Puggles. For now he is happy being the Lone Ranger… or Lighting Maqueen.

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Celebrations

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing, a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away, a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak, a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace. Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

New life comes in many forms. On March 26, 2012 we welcomed our newest addition to the family, my niece, Anna Bell B. Seven pounds and ten ounces of joy stretched 21 inches long will forever change us for the better.

Emily has cried, “I miss Anna Bell” for two months. Now she holds her precious cousin in her arms while helping feed her bottles of milk.

This week amidst our travels we have celebrated new life and the last two years with Brooks. We gathered with extended family to mourn the passing and celebrate the life of a beloved cousin.

There is a time and a place for everything under the sun. This week was a time to laugh and a time to weep, a time to embrace and a time to love.

 

 

May you make memories in celebration this weekend and live for the home that will outlive the present.

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Easter 2012

 Celebrating on Saturday with our extended family suited everyone’s busy Sunday schedule allowing us to enjoy each other with out the after church rush. Additionally we were able to eat lunch at Olive Garden after the third Easter service on Sunday. In case you were wondering, Little Italy serves up a tasty Easter dish! We hope you enjoy this picture recap of our celebrations.

We dyed Easter eggs on Friday evening and the kids acted as if they were going to Disney world. To say they loved it would be an understatement. I am considering buying more discount egg-dye at Walmart to surprise them.

Easter service ready then a kiss and out the door.

 

He lives, he lives,

Christ Jesus lives today!

He walks with me and talks with me

Along life’s narrow way.

He lives, he lives,

Salvation to impart!

You ask me how I know he lives?

He lives within my heart.

 Happy Easter 2012!

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To Scoop Them Up

The days flee and the nights escape us. Little ones, while tucked in, grow and develop when our eyes are closed and our thoughts rest.

Each day we see them and know they are growing. Each night we check on them one more time, finding them in their most precious, peaceful positions. Why is it that children are most peaceful when sleeping? Why do we want to kiss them until they wake up?

Little-lisped “s’s”, normal for their developmental age flow out of, “Yeth it ith.” “I thee it.” We melt and smile.

Pages turn unfolding stories as in turn we are writing our own.

Even unspoken, blank portions of our story can become a writing down. A working in and out of the Holy Spirit. As all things can if we seek Him.

These memories and moments I want to scoop up. All the hurts and chaos I want to let flow on like water off a duck’s back.

To have eyes that see; ears that hear; understanding. These are gifts from God. In this temporary home may we seek after such as we choose to pursue Jesus. Let us scoop up the memories and live eyes on the eternal.

Two memories we scooped this week:

Joshua caressed my hair on the way out the door Wednesday night and said, “Like your hair,” as he tilted his adorable two-year-old head to the left and lifted his shoulder. Prince charming?

Emily asked, “Can some people be blind and not hear?” I told her of Helen Keller, one of my favorite people to read about in grammar and high school. I thought we had a book at home about her.  Emily asks, “Is it a children’s book or one of your books mommy? I don’t think I could sit for one of your books.” The wisdom!

Linking my favorites with Rachel as she celebrates one year of Friday Favorite Things:

friday favorite things | finding joy

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For Emily, On Your Birthday

I Remember You

I remember you puddled in pink, taking your baths in the kitchen sink.

I remember you, flowers in your hair, waking up to your daddy’s loving stare.

I remember you with your eyes shut tight, balling fists and toes in the long dark night.

I remember you, Nana’s little shadow, following her and carrying horses’ red apples.

I remember you all words and whys, becoming more wise in this present world’s eyes.

I remember you pedaling tricycle in the warm morning sun, then pushing your baby carriage just like I had one.

I remember you covered in pink, pedaling your bicycle with a smile and a wink.

I remember you dancing and singing, putting all your dolls to bed like a good mommy in training.

I remember you holding brother at first meeting, gazing at the present and blessing counting all I was seeing.

I remember you reading books in your bed, replacing them under the mattress stead.

I remember you teasing you had no more kisses, and throwing them away in the waste basket like the tissues.

I remember you as the little girl you are for this present day as you turn four.

Happy Birthday Emily Elizabeth!

Love,
Mommy

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Things I Should Know

As I re-wipe counters that were morning clean, fold and put away the same shirts and underwear as last week, and re-sweep floors that were a few days ago Swiffer fresh, I should know…

Since the fall of man in the Garden of Eden, everything here on planet earth is temporary.

Man is like a breath, his days are like a passing shadow. ~Psalm 144:4

That I like Moses should pray,

So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.

~Psalm 90:12

Feet will not always dangle from seats too high.

Imaginative play lasts only for a season.

Even tantrums, the “no” stage, and time-outs will eventually fade away.

Then the little girl and little boy stand up and take their place in God’s world.

Time on earth is temporary and fleeting. Eternity lasts forever.

Shouldn’t I work for the eternal? See my children and their fleeting days till adulthood as a gift and a heritage to be cultivated in tiny hearts? Seek to serve the poor and the persecuted?

Indeed.

I should know that each assignment the Lord gives me on this earth will last, at most, only a lifetime. Perhaps that is why I was drawn to the quote in a Joan Walsh Anglund book this week:

Where is the yesterday that worried us so?

I should know that today is a gift, yesterday a memory, and tomorrow is a hope yet unrealized. I want to be a good steward of today and the resources God entrusted to me within it.

There is pressure in this knowledge, but also freedom.

Dear Father,

Please teach us to number our days that we may gain a heart of wisdom. Help us to live for the eternal, hold onto things loosely, and work for Your glory and fellow man’s good. Help us to seek the things that are above and remember that all victories or defeats in this life are but fleeting. Help us to delight in You and spread your fame through all the earth. Help us to be rich in good deeds and pursue a godly and peacful life. Let us do the work you give us with joy and sow a godly heritage in the children you have blessed us with.

In Jesus Name, Amen.

 

 

 

 

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