In case you haven't noticed, it's Monday. With Monday's comes whining by 7 am, and this morning a sick child before 9. Let us not forget the empty fridge because I was too busy to go to the Walmart this weekend. My whiny complaints are actually pretty menial. I really enjoy my life, but what I always tend to do is build everything up, in this tall well-stacked tower, and just hold my breath as I wait for it to topple over.
I do this with my work, too. When I'm ready to start actually “working” (writing, ministry stuff, Biblical Study, Market Research, Blah Blah) I tower that up too, a tall pile of papers waiting to proof read, books to read, newspapers, books, peridocials, blah blah. Sometimes I just sit and stare at the pile, trying to climb the tower to the right floor, or maybe even just hang out at the top waiting for my knight to rescue me.
But in my long life of painstaking experience, I know that I can't sit and wait for anyone in shiny armor to ride up on a horse, because the back of a horse isn't exactly condusive to typing and reading, not for me anyway.
Growing up I had horrible experiences (plural) on horse. The summer after third grade, I was riding a horse at summer camp. The horse was tall, the horse was old. There were three of us riding it. The Texas summer heat was beating down, the trails seemed long. I was bored. The tree limbs were low, the girl in front of me was suppose to duck. But she didn't. All three of us BAM! fell right off. Mortified, but not hurt, I swore myself away from thousand pound animals from that day forward.
Fear. The F Word that motivates me to ditch horses, and over analyze the piles of work. I just fear not finishing, or not doing it well or right. My check lists are long, and none of my “To Do's” seem to get checks next to them. Then at the end of the day, I just hate myself for not getting anything done. It's an ugly vicious cycle. And torments me from Monday to Monday. I'm trying to break out of the cycle, but it's not as easy as riding a horse, that's for sure.
What is your “F” Word?
The last few days I’ve spent ample time with Zac. He’s been home from school with pulmonary junk. So between the million breathing treatments, we’ve watched the Karate Kid at least as many times. Zac loves to punch and kick and flip. So after the millionth time of me asking him to sit down and stop putting himself on the brink of respiratory failure, he settled in with my iPad.
“Mom, how do you spell karate?”
Before I knew it, Zac was on Karate Depot investigating how much black belts cost.
“Mom, can I buy a black belt?”
So being the fantastic, insightful mom I am, I replied with, “A black belt can’t be bought. It must be earned.”
Quickly, Zac was just as insightful, “I am going to earn it–well, I’m going to pretend I did.”
Isn’t that the American way? We want to pretend, or live as if, we have earned something. We want a fantastic marriage, but we don’t want to fight our way through it. We want kids who are well-adjusted and able to handle no matter what comes their way, but we don’t want to impose the boundaries. We want that deep faith in God, but shrug our shoulders at the thought of daily prayer and Bible reading.
All of us on some level want to pretend we’ve earned all the benefits of maturity. We shop at a Karate Depot, or Marriage Depot, or Parenting Depot, hoping to find something that will give us an outward badge of honor–to show the world our amazing-ness. We are willing to pay the $29.95 and even the inflated shipping fees if only it will give us the shortcut.
I wish I could purchase a black belt in writing, and in teenage dating issues, and in church planting, and in marriage. But even if I did, when it came down to the time to battle the enemy, I would lose.
I finished the conversation with my determined child forehead to forehead. I looked him in the eyes and said, “We can’t cheat our way through things. We have to work hard, train, do whatever it takes to get our black belt. Even if it takes 15 years to get it. And that’s not just with Kung Fu. We have to work hard to be whatever it is we dream about. We can’t buy our dreams on the internet.”
He flipped and kicked his way upstairs and came down with his Judo uniform and proudly tied his white belt. The kicking and flipping never stopped, but hopefully he learned–hopefully we have learned–that whatever it is we want to be best in, whatever we want to wear a black belt for, will take doing the hard work!
Happy Friday. You are loved!
A journey begins. This week, my family and I will be creating life long memories, that we will talk about in years to come in conversations that start with “do you remember that time….” My man, along with three kids in tow are on our way. We are driving to a conference in North Carolina with a pitstop in JAX to see friends, and a detour to South Carolina on the way home to see more friends.
Our drive started with…yes a nap, for me and the kids, we left Michael in silence to do the dirty work. We woke up and took a waltz through a citrus market, with free samples of pecans and oranges. I told the kids to eat up–dinner was served.
All this past week, I’ve been praying for God to do something great in our family through this trip. I asked for burdens to be lifted, his voice to be heard, and for us to draw closer to each other. So the van broke down. No kidding. On the way to church this morning, the van just turned off. So we are piled in the taurus, kids snuggled up next to each other, closer than they have been to each other in a long while. God answered my prayer, I suppose. Next time, I should be more specific, huh?
We should all be intentional about creating Remember-That-Time’s. One day, it will all be that is left of us. My family and I constantly recall the sayings, doings and itme spent with my grandmother. She helped shape and form us, and the memories of her are rich and deep. I want to leave that for my children. We should all strive to create moments with our kids.
We should not rush to get to the destination. We should not make them hurry to the bathroom so we can get back on the road. We should force them to look at the beauty of the trees while we drive, even if they roll their eyes. We should jam out to oldies, loud, as they beg in the backseat to “please change the station.”
Everyhing we do with our kids is not just about the right now. It’s about the forever. I want to pass on a little piece of who I am, and we we are as a family during this road trip, showing my kids how to push through difficulty and exhaustion, how to have fun in the process, and how to create a Remember-That-Time they can share with their own kids someday.
When Alyssa came home from the Dominican, her leaders warned de-briefed her about living in America after being exposed to the Third World. Ever since then, she has struggled with balancing between the realities of poverty and the acceptance of being privileged. By American standards, we are lower middle class–struggling, lower middle class, but compared to the batay’s filled with refugees and the street kids, we might as well be bazillion-aires.
I, too struggle with this balance but mine is living in this world while being a citizen of the Kingdom of God. From moment to moment, I waver between accepting that my trials are to be rejoiced over, and pursuing one of my brilliantly thought out solutions to my problems on my own.
I want to move to a permanent address in my faith but find myself so consumed with things, worrying about our future, and making sure my kids don’t really know how bad things are. The obstacle grows more difficult when I’m surrounded by people who consume things without a flinch, have no fear of the future, and have no concerns to hide from their kids. It seems so unfair.
Now I know the truth. I know that everyone has their struggles, that the future is unsure and that kids can’t be completely oblivious, it will only harm them. But still I find myself moving up and down the see-saw of lies and truth, wondering why I can’t just jump off the ride and land in the stillness of Christ.
I know that I’m not the only one. Certainly each of you struggle with finding the balance in some part of your life. Maybe it’s between work and home. Maybe it’s trying to give your husband and your kids enough attention. Perhaps you can’t even find the time to take a shower.
We are not alone. As moms, wives–as women, we struggle between what is expected of us by our families and our society, and what we were created to be–faith-filled, children of a powerful and loving God. Whatever the imbalance, I’m desperately seeking solid ground.
So today is the first day without my daughter. Yesterday with every bit of courage I could find in me, I drove away and left her to train and prepare to do missions work in Barahona, Domincan Republic. With just a flutter of fear in my heart, I looked back, but she didn’t.
Never have I felt this way, ever. Pride, sadness, fear, love all tangled to create streams of tears that I just couldn’t hold back. The thought of her getting hurt, the thought of her maturing and growing up and moving away. The thought of her developing even more independence–the thought of her not needing me anymore.
I woke up this morning to this text message from her:
I miss you but I’m having a good time. Please don’t worry about me. You’re a great mom. I’ll try to text as often as I can I love you with all my heart mommy and I’ll be ok. xoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxooxox
So as I’ve gone through the day with my heart in my throat, I realize that all of this emotion and heartbreak I am experiencing is just because I’m a great mom. I have always encouraged her to be bold and deeply compassionate for people. When she has feared going to parties or being the only one, I have pushed her to go anyway. When she has told me what she’s wanted to be when she grows up, I have prayed and told her to follow God’s call on her life and let her dreams be God’s dreams.
And so there she goes. Chasing after God’s plans for her, recklessly pursuing a chance to love others and change the world. And here I am, pressing into Jesus, reminding myself that He loves her more than I do–even though I can’t imagine that could be possible.
I’m not saying I’ve been the GREATEST mom, I have made my share of mistakes. But I know that I would never want to get in the way of what God has for her. And I pray as a parent, you won’t either. Because it’s painful to watch them grow away. In our selfishness and fear, we could hold them hostage to our emotional needs, but don’t.
Be a GREAT mom–
Grow them to love the LORD and trust HIM more than they trust you.
Realize that they are not you and need to find their own way.
Encourage them to know their gifts, strengths and weaknesses.
Acknowledge their fears and push them through it.
Treat them with respect by not rescuing them from every little problem that arises.
Being a great mom isn’t the easiest job, but definitely the most rewarding. My daughter is changing the world, my daughter is loving the world, my daughter has a GREAT mom!