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Dear Weary Mama…

 

Dear Weary Mama,

I know the kind of day you have had. Today was one of those “nice” days. One of those days when the chill of winter was finally gone from the air. There was not a cloud in the sky. The sun was shining, and the temperature just right. After a season of long, wet, cold nights, you want nothing better than to enjoy all this day has to offer.

I know what you do next. You seize the day. Plan an outing for your kids. A long nature walk. A trip to the park. Maybe a stroll through the neighborhood, and a pit stop at the local pond. You and your family need to slow down a bit. Enjoy this day. You think of how great this day will be.

Until it isn’t, Mama. Until it causes your kids to moan and groan. Complain about a walk being too long. The park too boring, and the beach spot by the pond…just too sandy!

And you, dear Mama. You become a little emotional.

So you lose it. Because all your best laid plans failed. You feel useless. Unappreciated. Disrespected. You know you need a walk, and some fresh air; but who is going to go with you? Who is making sure you are OK?

So you lose it.

And after…you instantly feel guilty. I know you feel like you failed, because maybe in your disappointment you yelled. You feel alone, dear Mama, because you worry that you are the only one who ever feels this way. That you must be the only one whose kids don’t see beyond their own needs, desires, and likes.

As a mother comforts her child, so I’ll comfort you. Isaiah 66:13

I know you feel like no one sees you. Notices the 30 times this week you have emptied and reloaded the dishwasher. Driven to pick a friend up. Made a donut trip. Picked up another stray wrapper or sock. Mopped slime and glitter from the floor. Cooked a meal no one wanted to eat, and then cleaned it up, too.

Maybe you were silent, but you really wanted to scream. Maybe you did scream, Mama. Yelled a time, or two, or three.

I bet you feel unnoticed. Unappreciated. Used. Like you will never measure up to that Proverbs 31 woman. The one whose children rise up and call her blessed.

Dear weary one-you are blessed. God sees you.

He has given you this holy calling. This all important, and yes…all encompassing task of raising tiny humans.

Who think they know better. Who at times you don’t really like. Who at other times you wonder whose family tree they sprouted from, because they don’t resemble you in spirit at all.

God sees you, Mama.

He sees you. He loves you. He calls you blessed.

He sees you in your times of happy, and your times of despair. He sees you when you feel like a parenting success, and even when you are a parenting fail.

Dear weary Mama…He sees you.

 
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Posted by on April 8, 2019 in On Parenting

 

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An open letter to a young father

The picture above is me at around 22. My oldest about 3. Tomorrow that little boy will be celebrating the first birthday of his own son, at the tender age of 21.

Tonight as we settle down for Sunday dinner and celebrate this precious life on the eve of that momentous birthday, I want that little boy…now a young man to know these things.

First-I love you. Your momma will always love you. Even when life does not turn out the way I hoped it would for you. I love you.

Second-God loves you.

Let’s focus on that second one, and some of the things I wish people had said to me when I was a 19 year old unwed mother. When life had not turned out the way I planned. When my outward sin was on display for the whole world to see. When everyone had well-meaning advice, but others had a slew of opinions.

God loves you.

You are unique. I didn’t know this as a young mom. My concept of love was caught up in the world’s definition, and it told me people loved you if you did what they expected. Never took a few wrong turns. Did everything the “right” way. So I poured all that into you, desperate to make things right.

And…I messed up many times.

Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young. 1 Timothy 4:12

God loves you. The road has turned a little. He will make it “right.” And along the way, son, you are going to make some mistakes.

Because you don’t have it figured out now. This parenting gig is a ball game like no other.  And it seems all the coaches have a different playbook. Thing is…parenting does not come with a one-size-sits-all instruction manual. No matter what age you may be. I am 40, honey…and I ain’t got it right. I need Him. Everyday. Not the opinions of the world.

Society will ALWAYS have an opinion of the perfect parent. And I am here to tell you, to break it to you-you will NEVER measure up. The perfect parent is not the one who never struggles. The perfect parent is not the one who has never had to decide between diapers and gas at the end of the month. The perfect parent is not the one who never had a child fall out of the bed, get a bruise in the center of their forehead when they were learning to walk, or whose first word was a four-letter word that was NOT “milk.”

The “perfect” parent is you. The parent God picked for your child.

You will doubt your ability to do the right thing. To guide your son. To provide for him. Daily.

You will be judged for your choices as a parent. Daily.

You will make mistakes. Guaranteed.

If you ever doubt this, just call yo momma. I’ll sort it all out for you. Because I’ve done all those things and then some.

Know this: You are his “perfect” parent. Who is loved by God. Always. Loved by your momma. Always.

Love, Your “Imperfect” Momma, but the “Perfect” Momma for You!

 
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Posted by on March 3, 2019 in On Parenting

 

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Would you go where they go?

“How do they do it? How do they find each other? It’s like they can sniff out each other’s chaos?”

These are sometimes the conversations I have about the relationships amongst growing kids. How they decide to form attachments to those who are either good or bad for them. How we, as adults, do the same.

“Well, the same way adults do, right? We are all looking for someone who knows and will still accept our brand of crazy.”

That person who will see past our faults. That person we can trust. Who won’t gossip about us once we leave the room. Who will share in our struggles, and not share them with others. Be there when we are down. Pick us up when we need it.

Who when times are tough. We can’t see anyway out of the darkness. Have been acting a little crazy, distant, needy, whatever…won’t get sick of us, and leave.

Don’t we all want that?

“Don’t call me Naomi,” she responded. Instead, call me Mara, for the Almighty has made life bitter for me; the Lord has caused me to suffer, and sent tragedy upon me.” Ruth 1:20, 21 (NLT, paraphrase).

Naomi, a name given that meant “pleasant,” had suffered a life that during this time had been anything but. She had left Bethlehem. Moved to Moab with her husband. Had two sons, and then lost all three. Naomi had in turn become bitter (which is the meaning of the name “Mara”). Angry at God for seemingly allowing her grief. She fully expected to spend the rest of her life alone and abandoned in the same way she felt God had left her.

She did not expect anyone to remain loyal during her suffering. To endure her grief and pain alongside her.

But Ruth replied, “Don’t ask me to leave you and turn back. Wherever you go, I will go; wherever you live, I will live. Your people will be my people, and your God will be my God. Wherever you die, I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord punish me severely if I allow anything but death to separate us (Ruth 1:16-17).

To vow to stay with her until the end.

Ruth was no longer obligated to do so. No longer married to Naomi’s son. Technically no longer part of Naomi’s family.

But to Ruth, she was making a commitment that had nothing to do with blood or technicalities. Ruth saw Naomi. In pain. Grieving. And made a commitment to endure life with her. Through the ups and downs.

Through the suffering.

She made a sacrifice to love Naomi as her own family.

She didn’t weigh what was in it for her first. She didn’t do it in order to get anything out of it. Both women returned to Bethlehem with nothing. She simply saw another suffering soul; a woman in need of a friend. Someone needing to be accepted with all her “crazy.” She decided to love her and stand by her until the end.

Isn’t that what we all want?

The person we tell to leave, but just won’t. They stay and ride out our junk with us. Even if they have their own junk. Even if they don’t have to. Even if they have somewhere to be. Any time you call. Every time you fall.

We all want someone who will stay when we get a little sideways, and yes, a little “crazy.”

Do you have that person? Are you that person for someone?

Maybe today you can be just a little softer in the midst of someone’s struggle. Stay a while in someone’s “crazy” moment. Sit in someone’s chaos, instead of growing bitter. Help someone navigate their return home, so they don’t have to alone.

Even if you have somewhere to be. Even if you have your own junk. Even if you don’t have to.

Just go wherever they go for a while.

 

 
 

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Who of you by grumbling?

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Be cheerful no matter what; pray all the time; thank God no matter what happens.                                                                                                                       1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, MSG

“But I don’t want water. But I don’t want to do that. But I don’t like that. Ugh, that’s nasty.  But he never. She never. I want this. I want that.”

Grumbling. No rejoicing. All on a day I had planned just for them.  I don’t think the day went by with one single praise for anything He had done, or I had done, in fact.

It is on days like these that I would like to pack up my family. Move to some distant land. Let them see what “living” really is. Without internet. Without clean water. Without air conditioner, and the drive-thru of their choice.

There are days I need this reminder, too.

Because, quite honestly I have a lot of reasons to grumble. And on the days I find that maybe I grumble a little more, I also have many more to be thankful. Many more reasons to be grateful.

I’ll be missing one more person again this year during the holidays. While it seems I should be used to it at this point, it seems to be harder this time around. Maybe it’s my age. Maybe it’s because my little family is now a generation larger since I have become a MeeMaw and life has taken on new meaning.

I still find reasons to grumble. But the things that used to bug me, just don’t anymore. I also find the things that used to get under my skin, and make me angry don’t have the same effect on me as they once did.

I have not always been this way. I am a scream in traffic girl. A glass half-empty girl. A “I hate people” girl. Yes…there are days I don’t like people. I really don’t like to be around them. On those days, I just want to be alone, with a blanket, and a book.

And because I have to force myself to see life in that glass half-full perspective, I also have to force myself to count my blessings each day, not just during the Thanksgiving season. So I simply started keeping track of three small things for which I was grateful each day. And, while it may not have made me forget that there is something missing again this holiday season, it has done a few things. Forcing myself to be thankful has also forced me to think about all the things on a given day that don’t cause me to grumble. That make me happy. That bring me joy.

Those three things give me reason to praise God through the loneliness, thanking him for all the times He has placed someone in my path in those times of loneliness or defeat to breathe life into those empty places.

To praise God for all the times He did answer me, even when I thought he was not listening.

To stop rushing to work every morning, and actually stop and enjoy a morning sunrise. To enjoy the quiet, calm of an office before the morning buzz takes over.

To appreciate cute baby onesies picked up for the grandson. Or a new mug to enjoy my morning cup of coffee. To reflect on the conversations that have value and meaning, with the people that mean the most to me. To remember the times that I laughed with my kids, and the times they also did not complain and grumble through the day.

To relish the conversations that a 21 year old still wants to have with his mother. And the memories that an older sister has with her once again absent brother.

I can grumble over all the things that are wrong. I can complain over all the things that are bad. Continue to be sad over all the things that are not going as planned. I will always find something that will fit into one of those categories.

And, I will also always find something to bring me joy.

I just have to take the time to look for it.

Stop my grumbling. Change my perspective. Choose to be happy. Choose to be thankful.

 
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Posted by on November 21, 2018 in Uncategorized

 

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we have all been in the boat

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I am blessed to live in an area that affords me space to seek quiet and solitude surrounded by nature and picturesque views. I often find myself when I have a few moments alone scurrying down to the fishing pond close to my home with a book to read for a few, and to spend some uninterrupted time just taking in the sights and sounds around me.

On this particular day, I was not the only one who happened to find a few spare moments alone, and while I am not a fan of sneaking pictures of strangers (because in a small town you learn quickly no one is a stranger), I couldn’t help but capture this moment. Simply because it took me back to so many of the moments I had as a kid on many other lakes fishing with my father and my younger brother.

Those moments were not so quiet. And in those times there were three very different people in the boat. With very different personalities, serving three very different purposes.

My dad. He was the patient fisherman. He never really caught anything. And, he had to be pretty patient to spend all day on a boat with two young kids. He was the one who steered the boat in the right direction. Who picked the good fishing spots. Who baited the hook of the girl who refused to touch any worms!

Then, there was me. Every now and then I cast a line. I liked to fish, but I liked to read more. I liked to sit back on the boat, feel the breeze, and finish the book (or two) I was reading. If I did happen to take a turn fishing, I was the one who managed to snag the “sneaky” fish. The fish who managed to get the worm, but not the hook. Then, sometimes…if I studied the “sneaky” behavior long enough, took a break and read a few more books, I’d cast my line one more time, and manage the biggest catch of the day!

Last, but certainly not least, was my younger brother. Not to be out done by his older sister; and sure he knew that the fish would bite in the farthest reaches of the lake-he spent most of his time tangled in the trees.

There are all kinds of people in our boats.

All of you together are Christ’s body, and each of you is a part of it. 1 Corinthians 12:27

Some of them are the patient kind. They keep us on course. Steer us in the right direction. Even untangle our messes.

Some of them may just sit back and watch you get tangled. Maybe they will read a few books on how to help. Everything may seem easy to them at first, but if you look below the surface, there are people waiting to take whatever they may offer them on that baited hook, or behind that book they often sit behind, while they wait-studying the fish, so they know exactly how to help them in the future.

Then, there are those who just fall into the mess each and every time. And, that is OK.

We need these fisherman in our boats.

Because they remind us that we all have some mess we have been tangled up in at some point. Some time when we got our line stuck in the trees.

When we needed someone else to steer the boat. Someone else to guide us. Someone else to help get us out.

We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who you are. Romans 3:22

They remind us that no matter the mess. No matter how tangled the line, or how many times we needed someone to rescue us…we are all worthy of saving.

And, that we have all been in the same boat.

 
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Posted by on July 16, 2017 in You Make All Things New

 

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Weary, Worn, and In Need of Peace? Ask…

The Lord keeps you from all harm and watches over your life. Psalm 121:7

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“Ms. January is base. Now you can’t get me!”

Each week prior to our Wednesday night lesson at church, our children have a time of play. Their favorite game it seems week in and week out is a good, old-fashioned game of tag, and each week I am named the “base.” The place children run when they want to be safe. To escape from the things that pursue them. Try to get them. Make them run away, scared.

“Ms. January is base. Now you can’t get me!”

Base. Defined as the part on which something rests or is supported. Also, a structure on which something depends.

“Ms. January is base.” Really??

While these kids may run to me to keep them safe for a minute or two. While others in my line of work depend on me for support and direction, on most days, I feel more like those wimpy, snow-covered branches, than anyone’s base. Anyone’s safe place.

Weighed down by the demands of parenting. By children who do not always listen, or even respect the one who takes care of the home. Weighed down. Wimpy. From the demands of looking out for the needs of others. Tired. Weary. Feeling more like a doormat than any darn safe place.

And on some days, I would like to find my own “base.” A place to run from the daily pressures. From the things, people, and demands that chase me down.

When I don’t want to support anyone, or have anyone depend on me. When all I want is peace. A little time to rest on someone or something else for a change. A break form everything that has weighed these wimpy branches down.

While running away sounds nice, God has something else in mind.

God is base. Now no one can get me!

He wants to be my safe place. My support. On whom I depend.

My base when I can’t strike a balance between discipline and letting kids just be kids.

A safe place to run when the first thing I want to do is slam the front door and disappear for days. Where no one needs my help. My support. My advice.

But, I don’t have to run to find his safety. I don’t have to hide or disappear to find his support. His help. His counsel. His advice. His peace.

All I have to do is ask.

“Come to me, all who are weary and heavy burdened, and I will give you rest.”  Matthew 11:28

So, that is what I did. I went to Him and asked for peace. For Him to be my base, so no one could get me!

See, my untraditional work schedule. The time at night away from my family. Schoolwork into the wee hours of the morning. All of these had worn me down. All I wanted was a day of rest. No obligations. Nothing to do. Nowhere to go. Just peace.

So, I asked him for it. In the middle of a flurry filled morning that meant the next day my home would be full of anything but “quiet,” I asked for peace.

Maybe a snow day isn’t your idea of peace. Weighed down branches full of snow may not be ideal. And for me, they usually are not either. But, I claimed the peace I asked for the morning before. I claimed the patience I wanted him to give me with my children. And, sure…snow mazes, cookies, and snow cabins made from Lincoln Logs meant I had plenty to do, I enjoyed the time just being the support, the “base” that one little boy had missed, and needed on this day.

No bickering. No fighting. No need to apologize for my lack of patience. No need to run.

Just peace.

From the one who gives me a safe place to plant my feet each time I ask. Even if it is a snow-covered (now maze-covered) front yard.

 
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Posted by on February 17, 2015 in Craving More of God

 

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Sometimes There Is Nothing Left To Do But Laugh

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 Then our mouth was filled with laughter, and our tongue with shouts of joy. Psalm 126:2

“Whose idea was this?” This is what I ask my husband as our son sits and screams on the bathroom floor.

“Whose idea was what?”

“Parenthood. Which one of us thought that was a great idea?”

We know, we know. We did. God did. God thought we were equipped for this journey, and he blessed us with these headstrong and challenging kids.

But, honestly…we were not standing in line screaming, “Pick me! Pick me!” for one of these battles. Truthfully, I always thought God knew I was not strong or patient enough to handle some of these things parenthood brings, let alone what autism brings with it.

And, finally…I’m not always strong or patient. There are times I really don’t know how to handle it at all.

Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come. Proverbs 31:25

I have found the dignity and strength many times to conquer the tantrums, take on the flailing arms, flying Legos, and ear-piercing screams of one little boy, but as he kicked and screamed in the tub. As he slapped me with his rag. Dumped water in my lap, and screamed louder, I lost all dignity. I had no strength left. I had no clue what else to do.

So, I just looked at the little monster in the tub, and laughed. Loud. Uncontrollably. Yes, that’s right. While, I should have had the situation under control, I decided instead to laugh at it.

To laugh at it, because I know there is more of this in my future.

Even in laughter, the heart may ache; and the end of joy may be grief. Proverbs 14:13

Oh, the grief. The pain. The heartache. Most definitely returns.

See, that question-“Whose idea was this?” Although maybe a bit twisted, a tad inappropriate, the question is actually an important one. What we are really asking is this-Are we in this together? Are you with me on this one? We agree on this, right?

Because, we know all too well that while we play a tug of war with our boy, we also do the same with each other. The doting and cuddling momma, and the disciplinarian dad don’t always agree.

We are also well aware of the grim statistics of those who parent children with special needs. The statistics that say we will not make it. That we will remain broken. At war with each other. In a constant tug between pain and heartache.

So, with God’s help we choose instead to look at each other, joke about what we can’t change, and laugh. Together.

We choose to laugh despite the heartache, struggle, and challenges we know we will face again. Laugh at the future we also know is uncertain.

To laugh at this crazy thing called parenthood, just to keep our strength and dignity. Just to stay sane.

Because, although we didn’t pick this one, and we actually didn’t plan on parenthood a third time so soon, we can rejoice in the fact that we are the parents God intended us to be.

Up for a challenge definitely not chosen. With no fancy parenting formula but simple laughter.

Laughing at the times we have now, and those to come…because, really? Sometimes, there just isn’t much else left to do!

 
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Posted by on December 3, 2014 in On Parenting

 

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