Lessons from My Daughter

LessonPlans

Over the course of five years, I’ve taught countless lessons to my children. Many of which were memorable, while others were soon forgotten. The joy of homeschooling is simply that, teaching my children at home. But in this span of time, every so often I get a lesson from any one of my children that impacts me down to my innermost being and changes me at my core.

This past Saturday, on a warm, breezy afternoon, I once again was privy to an amazing tutorial with my sweet daughter at the helm.

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In our family, a new “first” occurred earlier that day. It was the first time one of my kids spent time away from me or my husband’s watchful eye with someone they would’ve considered a stranger. But of course, to us, it was a friend we knew and trusted well enough with our child.

It was one of our daughters’ first sewing lesson and she was very much thrilled to begin. She’s had an interest in fashion for quite some time, so it was a no brainer when the opportunity presented itself for these lessons.

For days, leading up to the class, she cheerily chatted about all she wanted to learn and daydreamed about what she would sew.

However, as the time to be dropped off drew near, some of her excitement waned and was replaced by nervousness. The realization that she would be on her own, away from us, with someone new was a bit scary.

After working through this bit of angst, she was back to her bubbly self. No later than she was off to her class did I look up at the clock to see she’d soon be returning home. Upon her arrival, she enthusiastically shared all about her achievements. It was apparent she had long forgotten about her earlier fears.

As the day continued, we found ourselves en route to Kelly Drive in order to enjoy the sunshine. On our ride, my daughter and I once again discussed her courage to participate in an unfamiliar setting. The topic soon turned to how she enjoyed her new teacher and we talked about what qualities make a good teacher:

Patient…

Willing to answer your questions…

And so on.

It was at this point where things took a particularly interesting turn. With no warning, my daughter offered up more than I bargained for when she blurted out,

“You’re a good teacher too, Mommy, but sometimes you can be harsh.”

This statement flowed so matter of factly from her sweet little lips I was floored!

Between my gaping mouth and eyes the size of saucers, it was beyond apparent her pronouncement had taken me aback. So much so I didn’t yet have a compartment in which to place her assessment.

I was stuck in a state of bewilderment.

In that moment her brutal honesty came from her being innocently unaware of the expected roles between mama and child. You could tell my daughter didn’t take her cue. In the typical mother-daughter relationship, her words bordered on the fine line of having the potential to get her into big trouble.

But within a matter of seconds, her childhood survival instincts kicked in and she immediately realized she should somehow find a way to soften the blow of her words. In a snap, she countered with, “I’m not trying to be mean, Mommy, just honest.”

I quickly understood her backpedaling was coming from a place of intuitive regret for having possibly placed her in the realm of consequences. I softened my face so as not to convey contempt.

Funny enough, in that instant, I actually appreciated my daughter’s candor.

I welcomed it.

I’ve always tried to foster an environment of honest reflection between us, where we can be ourselves and share openly with one another. Respect goes both ways between us while still having the freedom to exchange our ideas about how we’re impacting one another. This, my friends, was simply another one of those moments in our relationship. And I didn’t want to squander the moment by penalizing her for giving me insight into how she receives me.

The first lesson I learned that day:

Just because I didn’t like her message didn’t mean it wasn’t valid.

You see, I had a choice to make. I could’ve either come down hard on her for telling me what I didn’t want to know.

Or,

I could have simply embraced her truth. After all, this was the mommy she had come to know in times of frustration.

And with that, I sealed my fate by choosing the latter response.

I told her, “It’s okay, I appreciate your feedback.”

From there, I licked the wounds of my bruised pride and we moved on without any more incident.

But my daughter’s evaluation of my response to her in times of pressure stayed with me. I’ve turned her words over and over in my head since that afternoon.

I’ve prayed.

I’ve read the Word.

I’ve searched my heart for any truth I might uncover.

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And ya know what? As much as I hate to admit it, I did find some truth there.

Lesson #2:

My daughter’s words revealed my attempts to hide my a tendency to not be slow to anger when things don’t go my way were feeble at best and ridiculous at worst.

What’s less shocking but equally disappointing is the fact that this area of unbridled anger is not foreign to me.

It has shown up time and time again when the pressure cooker of life is on. I can’t excuse it away, smile it away or even explain it away.

Disobedient children? Frustration is my comfort food.

Friends or situations who disappoint me? I get mad at the world.

Forgetful husband? I blame every unrelated problem on his absentmindedness!

With a heart unwilling to yield its full emotional capability over to a God who is more than able to handle it, the options of how to let off steam are endless.

As I parked our van on Kelly Drive in preparation for our light hearted walk, God was once again at work in the classroom of my heart. This time, he wasn’t afraid to put my daughter in the professor’s chair.

The third and final lesson of the day AND possibly the most important:

In God’s Kingdom, he uses the foolish things of this world, the childlike things if you will, including the boldness of a nine year old little girl to speak his loving words of correction to His hard-headed daughter.

Proverbs 27:6 says, “Faithful are the wounds of a friend.”

Well, my daughter played double duty that day as my friend and she faithfully wounded me.

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But oh am I so glad she did!

God got my attention that day. And by His grace, he will keep it.

I pray the same will be true for you when it’s your turn to put on the pupil hat.

This is why I submit to you; have you needed to ask those closest to you some similar test questions?

  • Do you have a tendency to be uncontrolled in your speech when under the gun?
  • Have you grown accustomed to delivering empty promises to your children?
  • Are you a distracted listener when your precious kiddies truly desire your undivided attention?
  • Does your spouse feel replaced by Facebook or other forms of social media?
  • Are you moving towards compromise in some of your friendships or other relationships?
  • Are you allowing drift to creep into your most important relationship with your Heavenly Father who wants all of you?

Trust me, seeking answers to these questions may seem pretty scary. But the good news is the sooner we work up the nerve to ask, we’ll be all the better for it.

It’s true, the lessons my daughter has taught me sometimes makes the role of pupil not so fun.

But,

They give me the answers I desperately need in order to grow into who God wants me to be. Will you allow him to do the same for you?

Thanks for reading and if you like what you see, go ahead and hit that follow button and I’ll catch you next time!

Blessings,

Courtney

An Unlikely Call or Snow Day Musings

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Who would’ve thought it’d be snowing like this on a Wednesday afternoon in March?

Yet here we are!

In fact, there’s a lot of unexpected things I’ve been encountering as of late. Its been a while since I’ve updated the old blog but once you read this post, you’ll see why.

As of January 12th, we welcomed a new little cutie into the Dunlap fold and have been off to the races.

Nyla at birth

I jokingly tell friends who have been asking how we are doing since our daughter’s birth that this was all a set up! You see, its been nearly five years since the last infant graced our threshold and that little guy was the EASIEST baby you’d ever imagine.

Well, this new little one has surely been giving us a run for our money to say the least! But ya know what, its been a welcomed disruption as the days and weeks leading up to her entrance into this world were marked with difficulty, uncertainty and even unknown danger.

You see, she has multiple cysts on her right kidney which were discovered in utero. (Random little nugget here, but her oldest sis has the exact same condition and it was detected the same way!) So that threw us for a loop as we thought this pregnancy would be smooth sailing for the most part. So when God allowed this repeat of a condition, in a way, our hearts were already prepared, we just didn’t know it yet.

He’s so merciful like that, ain’t he?

To be honest, that wasn’t even the most concerning part of this whole birth story.

About 34 weeks into my pregnancy, at a routine ultrasound to continue monitoring the kidney condition, the doctor found that she had begun slowing down in her growth rate. The doc wasn’t necessarily worried but more so precautionary and wanted to to do another ultrasound the following week.

At subsequent appointments, another doctor found more of the same prognosis. In fact, his concern was so great that he was now talking to us about an induction in order to preserve our baby’s only functioning kidney. This troubling possibility was held in the tension of an awareness that I was not yet full term and the risk of having to care for a preterm baby with underdeveloped lungs was now on the table.

Talk about a “Woo sah moment”!!!

You know this is usually the part of my story where I start telling you guys how much I was freaking out and crying and praying and praying and crying and then freaking out some more.

BUT, God y’all!!!

Can we just take a parenthetical pause right here and have a quick two second praise?!

Let me tell you, the Lord really delivered on his promise from Isaiah 26:3:

“You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you!”

Am I saying I wasn’t concerned?

No.

Am I saying I wasn’t hoping for a good outcome?

Nope, not in the least!

Am I saying that I wished we weren’t at this point and really wanted to make it to my due date that was in three weeks, let alone the Milk & Cookies event we were planning with our friends as a sort of “un-baby shower, baby shower” that was only days away?

Absolutely not!

But what I am saying is despite all the mounting bad news, the worsening projections and worrisome possibilities, the overseer of my soul kept my heart still.

He was faithful to His Word!

Before I knew it, I was three weeks shy of our little love’s due date and in the path of a scheduled induction.

What else could go wrong?

Well, as it would go, induction day came and went. An unlikely uptick in impatient babies wanting to come that day caused a major back up in our hospital’s labor and delivery department. But by 6 am the next day, we were ready to go!

For the most part, the majority of my induction was pretty uneventful. I mean, minus the fact this was my third pending VBAC (Vaginal Birth After Cesarean). As an aside, my oldest daughter was delivered via Cesarean but my second and third births were both successful VBACS. You could say this “return customer” was pretty comfortable with her midwife’s track record and was ready for round three!

I had labored through most of the day and spent it by watching movies, kicking it with my boo, entertaining myself on Facebook and participating in hilarious text threads with my friends. I was calm, cool and collected and things were actually ahead of schedule in terms of my labor’s length.

Yet, when it came time to push, fatigue, frustration and discouragement were beginning to set in.

The last hour before our baby’s birth was one of the most trying of all my labors. It was like a physical culmination of all the stop and go, great news and then sucky news, and worry and angst of the past month all wrapped up with an ugly bow!

I didn’t want to feel another contraction.

I didn’t want to push anymore.

I had mentally tapped out.

Thankfully, I’m married to a man who moonlights as a cheerleader or at least that’s what I’d like to think. He saw the look in my eyes and knew I was no good. His strong, calming and compassionate presence was what I needed to get me over that hump.

And so, with the Lord’s strength and of course one final push from me, Nyla Rose Dunlap made her entrance into this world!

Nyla Rose

Yet, unbeknownst to me, my hubby, and even our docs was a ginormous (is that a word?? I don’t know but let’s go with it okay) knot in Nyla’s umbilical cord!

What an unwelcome surprise!

We had had absolutely no clue. It wasn’t detected on any of the ultrasounds and it sure as heck was the furthest thing from our minds when it came time to induce. And still, this unseen threat was literally blocking the life my daughter was destined to have even before she took her first breath.

Knot in Nylas cord
This knot is CRAY right??!!

It’s funny how in the weeks leading up to Nyla’s birth, I found myself meditating on Matthew 6:25-34. I don’t know why but I just couldn’t shake it.

What I didn’t know was it was exactly what I needed. When it came time for me to implement Jesus’ mandate to not worry, there was Matthew 6 holding my frayed heart together. It was keeping me from going down the crazy rabbit trail of what else could be lurking around the corner.

This whole ordeal encounter with God’s Sovereign hand will forever be etched on my heart of pure evidence of His love for me and care for my family.

To be quite frank with you, this pregnancy was a lot. It was almost too much! Although it was planned, it turned out to be more than what we bargained for. And more than that, since having Nyla, her presence in our family has been a welcomed disruption. In my heart of hearts since delivering her, I’ve had thoughts about how her cute little face has changed up everything, never to be the same again.

For about a good month after her arrival, I wasn’t feeling what this newness was bringing.

You see, we had had a good thing going for about five years. We were settled into a groove of life — a rhythm really.

I don’t know why but if the craziness of her birth is any indication of what else is in store, I must admit that I’m going to need more than just a couple of scriptures to keep me sane. I’m going to need the WHOLE counsel of God’s Word, His Holy Spirit and lots and lots of grace to make it through!

And you know what, that’s okay! I think that’s exactly right where God wants me to be really. Isn’t that what he requires of all of us who call ourselves believers?

Unabashed childlike faith that is full of dependence on Him and His Word!!!

And if you have found yourself in a similar place of uneasiness, disrupted by life’s curve balls, what I will say to you, weary one, is He too calls you to this same place. I implore you to wholly throw yourselves upon the Savior’s love and entrust yourself to Him.

He is faithful to His Word. He can and He will uphold you!

God bless you, thanks for reading! Until next time…

In total surrender,

Courtney

 

 

 

Allow me to (re)Introduce Myself!

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All I can hear is the first line of that Jay-Z song as I title this post! If you don’t know what I’m talking about, its cool. 😉

For a while now, I’ve toyed around with the idea of changing my blog’s name to more accurately associate it with what I’m most passionate about. Writing is still my thing. Hence the reason behind the creation of this blog to begin with. But as my time as a blogger has evolved, I’ve found my posts to be less about my writing journey and more about my life in general. It’s only fitting to have a blog name that depicts that, right?

So allow me to (re)introduce myself…

Welcome to Able to Teach!

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Don’t worry, I’m still the same old Courtney.

Silly. Energetic. A lover of art and exploring new things. Excited about teaching and learning. In love with my three crazy kids aka my rabbits. Head over heels for my boo-thang, my main man, the Mr. to my Mrs. and Passionately committed to Jesus.

But as for this blog, I’d love for you to be crystal clear on what the content is you’ll be reading. And to date, its been about simply that, my motherhood experience and the crazy-fun homeschooling journey I’ve been on the past five years.

My passion is to teach my children. But more than that, it’s my desire to inspire any and everyone who’d ever say, “You know what, I think I am too!” So though the blog name “Able to Teach” is new to you, its been stirring in my heart for some time now.

So keep riding with me folks, we’re in for a good time!

Thanks for reading and following me thus far! I look forward to many more good conversations ahead.

Here’s to our newest journey…together!

Blessings,

Courtney

HAPPY EARLY MOTHER’S DAY!!!

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We took a quick detour from our Africa travels to wish all the mothers out there a HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY!!!

I wanted to share some books to get you in the mood to celebrate all that moms do for their families while also featuring books with black and brown faces. Without further ado, here we go!

First up…

What better way to show our appreciation then by calling out all the ‘hero moms’ who regularly sacrifice and give of themselves with little to no thanks? Add to that a life of service and we’re right up your alley. The book, Hero Mom, by Melinda Hardin celebrates the unsung heroes of the armed forces who are not only women and mothers but warriors too!

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Ever been told, “You can’t do it all”? Well, in the book Me and Momma and Big John by Mara Rockliff, you’d think that Momma really could! You see, she’s a stonecutter and is helping to construct the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine in New York City. Tired and sore from a long day’s work but left with the feeling of accomplishment from being a part of something bigger is what many mothers can relate to from this story as well. Read more and hear the inspiring (and true) story of one woman’s work.

me and momma and big john

A single mother, looking to expand her family’s horizons with a new job opportunity, a supportive grandmother ready to help and a whole neighborhood looking out for each other is what can enhance the traditional family. What’s even better is you get to see it played out in the book, Where’s Jamela by Niki Daly! As an added bonus, the author snuck in some of his South African heritage within the pages of this book. It’ll leave you wanting to find out where’s Jamela too!

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There are many this Sunday who will celebrate the mothers in their lives who have been more than that but a grandmother too. My Nana and Me by Irene Smalls is a sweet message of the special bond between a child and her nana. If this is your story as well as you own recollection of the special ‘mother’ in your life, allow it to wrap you in its arms and warm your heart.

my nana and me

And last but certainly not least…

Carrying on your family’s traditions to the next generation are the mark of leaving a true legacy. Mimi’s Tutu, by Tynia Thomassie, showcases how the multi-generational family can impact and inspire it’s youngest members. Celebrate all the mothers in your family this Mother’s Day no matter if she wears the title of Auntie, Gramma, or Mama! Oh, and did I mention this one celebrates the story of a fictitious family from Guinea by the way! Looks like we went to Africa on this one after all! lol 😉

mimis tutu

However you choose to celebrate Mother’s Day or if your heart is tender from loss, I pray you are able to cherish the moments you have with those you love most!

Happy Mother’s Day!!

Blessings,

Courtney