Summers on Purpose ~ MOMS

All three kids were already awake when I finally quit hitting snooze. UGH. Rolling my eyes, I took in a deep disgruntled breath, threw the covers off, and immediately started barking orders at everyone. There was snapping, yelling and maybe some gnashing of teeth, you know what I’m talking about right? UGH. We rushed around and made it to school on time, I think, but I felt so defeated because my day didn’t start as I intended it to, nor had I acted the way I desire to act as a mom.

The baby and I came home after doing the carpool/drop-off thing and my attitude was still so awful. I made more coffee and got the baby situated, hoping he wouldn’t get into anything for just a bit while mommy tried to get it together. I’d been too rushed and irritated in the chaos to take two seconds to pray and ask the Lord for help, so right there, in my pantry I got on my knees and prayed.

With the baby playing around me, my face was on the ground in desperate need of the Lord’s help and forgiveness when I realized my hands, initially in the prayer position, had moved onto my face, covering my nose and mouth like an oxygen mask.
I’d already been thinking so much about the upcoming summer and the importance of my morning heart, soul and head being in tune with the Lord first so I can love and enjoy the craziness that summer often brings…
And there my hands were, as an oxygen mask breathing in His grace, breathing out myself. Emptying me of myself and letting Him fill me. Words spoken to the Heavens with each breath out, His love and grace returning with each breath in. My soul was immediately quieted and calm. Goodness His peace is beautiful and so needed in my life.

This whole scenario reminded me that I’ve got to take care of myself first, oxygen mask on myself first, before I can be the mama Christ has called me to be. This “self-care” that pours into everything else that I do comes from a place of complete surrender and dependence on Jesus to grant me the things I cannot give myself in the chaos of everyday life. Things like self-control, kindness, patience…three things I desperately need to be a good steward of the children God has entrusted me to, along with being a wife, daughter, friend, etc… This O2 mask is of Jesus Christ Himself.

But seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be added to you. Matthew 6:33

I think of how the O2 mask falls out of the ceiling in an airplane when it is needed, typically only in emergencies, hanging there ready to be grabbed by the person needing it. With Jesus, He’s always hanging there. Right in front of our faces ready to be taken a hold of and put on.

…that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Ephesians 3:19

I couldn’t really find a verse about an oxygen mask (ha) or taking care of ourselves first, because the Bible is all about the “I’m Third” mentality–which is awesome ~ Jesus, others, ourselves…but we find several times in Scripture where Jesus withdrew to lonely places and prayed (Luke 5:16).

Quiet moments with God, even a quick surrendering of our wills to Him before our feet hit the floor in the mornings, is the best O2 mask we can ever wear. Because when we are filled with Christ, we will have more grace, love, and patience which means less yelling, reacting and snapping (yes, please!).  When we soak Him in and soak His Words up, we will be more sensitive to the Holy Spirit guiding us in the calm or chaos a day might bring (yes, again, please!).

Mother Teresa said, “to keep a lamp burning we have to keep putting oil in it.” She was so right on that. When we pay attention to our needs we will be better equipped to meet the needs of others. He knows our needs and when we seek Him first and above all else He will give us everything we need (Matt 6:33)…it’s a promise!

Those moments on my pantry floor completely changed my attitude for the entire day. I was more calm, kind and surrendered to the only One who knows my every need before I even ask and is more than happy to supply an overabundance of Himself to my surrendered mama heart.

So, Moms, we can be purposeful this summer by putting the oxygen mask Jesus on ourselves first. To tap into Him daily-momently. In the pantry, in the pool, etc…He’s always there and always willing to help, to fill us so we can pour into others, especially our precious families.

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us… Ephesians 3:20

A prayer for us mamas…

Dear Lord, what a mighty blessing and miracle our children are- it’s truly amazing. THANK YOU!  May we mamas, in each moment, praise Your name for allowing us to help mold and influence these little lives.  It can be a daunting task, Lord, but when we seek You first and acknowledge Your control over all and our lack there-of, we allow You to step in and guide us. To use us as instruments of Your grace for our children.  We can’t be the mamas You have called us to be in our own strength, so thank You, for being strong in our weaknesses. I am so weak so often, forgive me. But help me to point them to You even in my sin, weaknesses and apologizes.  Help us to lean into You and not ourselves when those hard mama moments come, no matter how many.  Fill us, Lord, so we can fill our homes with Your love, grace and truth. May we dive into You and Your word in new ways this summer. May this be a summer on Purpose for us and our kids all for Your name. Amen!

My Naniel

Wow, it’s hard to know where to even start when talking about my brother, Daniel. He was all I ever knew; he was 13 months old when I was born (bless my mama, we were like twins). One of my favorite pictures is of us in a crib, it captures me screaming at the top of my lungs with Daniel wide-eyed, scared to death. He didn’t know what he was getting when he got me for a little sister! I kind of think he liked me, though, we were like best friends growing up.  I looked up to him and loved him unconditionally; I called him Naniel. Probably more like a brother to him in those earlier years, he was my hero and I remember wanting to be just like him. He would always put me up to something and of course I would do it, get caught and we would both get in trouble. He was mischievous with a humor and wit that would make everyone laugh.

I never knew anything was different about him. When we would be in public though, other people would stare at him. I was his protector, as siblings are, and I did not like the looks and stares he got because his legs looked different. I know there were times he held me back because I wanted to hurt someone for looking at him the way they did. I just wanted to protect him. He, however, took it all in stride, I rarely saw it get to him. In hindsight, the children just didn’t know better…maybe the adults didn’t either, but it still hurt me every time…but not my Naniel.  He held his head high and I can even remember him making crazy silly/scary faces at people to get them to stop. Ha. Never a dull moment, and if there were, Daniel would make a way to fill it with laughter.

Don’t get me wrong, we were siblings, so would fight, get on each other’s nerves and even hit each other from time to time. As we grew older, Daniel and our little sister, Emily, grew closer, which was neat. They developed a beautiful bond, too.

Mentally, Daniel was fine—sharper than most of us probably, but never did he enjoy school, homework or tests.  His greatest loves were cars, airplanes, fishing and computers to name a few.  His challenges were strictly physical and other than numerous surgeries and hospital visits, he led a fairly typical life.  He played basketball and baseball when he was younger, had a steady job from age 15 on, got his drivers license at 16, but as he grew older, would often prefer his wheelchair or crutches if he had to walk far distances, probably due to the pain or strength it took.

We never discovered exactly what Daniel had, he was just Daniel. My middle child curiosity really wanted to know, but some things are just for God to know and us to trust Him. He doesn’t make mistakes and He certainly didn’t make a mistake when He made my brother.

I hate Daniel lived in pain and went through surgeries and hospital stays, etc…but he was truly amazing and secure in who God made him to be (something I struggled with myself for years). He never tried to be anyone else; he never tried to mask his disabilities, and never did you hear him complain…never. There was such a gentle, sweet meekness about his spirit with a little sneakiness added in there, too. He certainly had times of rebellion as we all do, driving too fast, wrecking cars, missing curfew, etc… But never was he disciplined differently because of his physical limitations.  I truly admire my parents for their role in Daniel having no self pity or sense of entitlement because he was different.

One thing Daniel did beautifully was look past the outside of people and into their eyes and hearts. He was one of the most accepting people I have ever met. I learned so much from him and I know I wasn’t the only one.

The morning I received the phone call from my parents is one I will never forget. My housekeeper had to pick me up off the floor. Several friends came over to just sit with me while I cried and cried and cried. My mother-in-law drove me to my hometown where, once there, I sat crying in my mom’s lap for hours, wanting to crawl back into her to make the pain go away. Not believing this was really happening. Wanting to wake up from the nightmare, wanting just to die too. Wanting the pain to stop. Wanting my brother back. Wishing I had said more to him and known him better in those last few years. So much more time I could have spent with him, so much more love I could have given him, so much more I could have learned from him.

I remember our pastor coming over to discuss the funeral with us. Dad had picked “It is Well with My Soul” as one of the songs. I was so not OK with that because it was NOT well with my soul, how could we sing such a song!?  But, by the time the funeral came around, I knew the Lord would help me in making it well with my soul, and He has.

We didn’t know how we were going to make it through the visitation and funeral, but my goodness, God carried us in a way we had never experienced.  My dad even did the eulogy, amazingly.  There was not a dry eye in the packed church because everyone who knew Daniel felt the great loss of not only a friend but an outstanding, brave, unique man.

The weekend before Daniel died, he and my sister came to see me.  We had a night to ourselves, just the three of us, and I am forever grateful to God for that night.  God knew what was going to take place later that week and He gave me one last night with my brother.  I remember during the visit, really studying him, his movements, his features.  I sat and watched him do things like I never had before, I even remember Emily and I admiring him while he slept.  Those images are etched in my heart forever and I am so thankful.  I didn’t know it at the time but wow, was that God preparing us or what?  I am so grateful for that night and so grateful for my brother.

We talk of him often and it’s as if our daughter, who was born almost 2 years after Daniel died, has always known who he was.  Her sweet little life brought so much joy and healing to our family.  Our son has Daniel’s dark brown eyes and I love it; I think he resembles him also.  Daniel’s name will be continued in our family by God’s amazing grace and blessing of the baby boy I am now carrying.  He is so faithful to give me a second son, one I can name after my brother.

Years ago Daniel gave my mom some roses for Mother’s Day, she planted them and to this day, even surviving a move to a new yard, that rose bush produces the most beautiful, vibrant roses at the most perfect times.  It’s a reminder of our Daniel but also of God’s faithfulness.

It took a while not to be sad about losing Daniel, but no longer do I mourn, I smile when I think of him.  Of course I miss him and would love one more hug or laugh but I know he is in a better place and I will see him again one day!  I feel so blessed to have been his sister and will forever praise God for my Naniel.

“The Lord gives and the Lord takes away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.” Job 1:21b

Thank you, Lord, for my irreplaceable, one-of-a-kind brother, Daniel. Thank you for giving him the soul, perseverance and personality that you did. We know you have a plan and purpose for each and every person you create, no matter what they look like to our human eyes. May we take joy in the beauty of your creations, and may we love ourselves and accept ourselves the way you made us uniquely knit in our mother’s wombs. Thank you for 29 years with Daniel, I don’t know who we would be today if you hadn’t given him to us. I thank you for my parents, the only two people you deemed able to properly care for and raise Daniel. I pray for continued peace and joy in their souls until they are reunited with their firstborn. They are amazing and I’m glad you chose them for me, too! I am so grateful we had Daniel for as long as we did and I am extra grateful He is now walking pain free, no crutches or wheelchair, no scars or stares from others, with You. For all eternity. Thank you for his salvation. In Jesus name, Amen.  

 

Meet My Brother…In His Own Words

My Space.  Does it even exist any more??  I’m so grateful for it because, from it, came these beautiful words by my brother.  They are answers to questions about his life for his My Space page, probably written the year or the year before he passed away.  What a blessing they have been!  Enjoy getting to know my brother, Daniel Matthew Sprott, in his own words.


(1995 senior pictures)

 Born in Little Rock, AR at the Doctor’s Hospital Building and immediately rushed to St.Vincent’s due to complications.  I’ve been in and out of hospitals ever since then.  I’ve had 30+ surgeries, I lost count years ago.  I’m a professional patient!  I’m still kicking.  That is a testament to my resilience.  We lived in Brinkley until I was about 9 years old (4th grade), then moved to Harrison.  I’ve owned 5 vehicles in my life and I have a 40% kill ratio.  A ’66 Dodge Coronet 440 which I still own, ’95 Plymouth Neon, ’92 Dodge Dakota, ’01 Chevy Blazer, and now a ’00 Honda CR-V.  I’ve hit 2 airbags and I believe in them.  I’ve survived turmoil’s I cannot begin to express!  Since my last wreck, or rather because of it, I have quit a lot of things.  Quit drinking cokes and increased my water intake.  I’m feeling better everyday!  My family is special in this day and age, my parents are still married after 36 years.  I have 2 of 4 grandparents still living, all of whom are over 92 years old.  I have two wonderful sisters, both younger, both beautiful, and both super-smart.  We’ve all been blessed!  Welcome to my life!

 My weakness: my legs.  My fear: falling.  My goal this year: pay off my Honda (which he did).  My most missed memory: riding with Grandpa Greene in his truck.  Do you believe in yourself: yes.  Do you get along with your parents: yes, they are my favorite landlords.  Ever been beaten up: yes, once, never again; I believe in the “right to carry.”  My heros: my father and grandparents, and Deputy Upton and John Neal, who pulled me out of two of the cars I wrecked.  What do you want to be when you grow up: respected.  How would you want to die: skydiving or in my sleep, just not in a hospital.

(his Dodge Coronet, his pride and joy; I was always embarassed to ride in it but he drove it proudly!)


On this day (October 19) in 2006, my brother unexpectedly died.  Not in a hospital or skydiving, but in his sleep, most likely from heart failure.  He was 29 years old.  It shocked my family to the core and changed us forever, but we know Daniel is with Jesus and that is so comforting.  What was the most joyous day of his life, was the worst of ours.  We love so selfishly, don’t we?  We miss him terribly but God has healed most of our hurt and will continue to heal our hearts until we are reunited with our Daniel again one day.  We praise God for who he was and for the years and time we had with him!

“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” Psalm 139:13-16

(at my husband’s and my wedding in 2002; he danced so hard that night his legs hurt for weeks! But he had so much fun and would’ve told you it was worth it!)