When Your Daughter Leaves For College

I was laying there in bed holding my new sweet girl.  I was alone, twenty and a new mom.  I had to pee and was in so much pain.  I didn’t know what to do.  I pushed the button.

“Yes, can I help you?”

“Umm yes, I have to use the restroom.”

“Did you need help?”

“No I just don’t know what to do with my baby.”

I’m certain the nurses at on the other end of the intercom either a. laughed hysterically at me or 2. shook their heads and murmured, “Bless her heart.”

I pulled myself up and put her in the clear plastic bassinet. I waddled to the restroom, pulling her behind me.  “don’t cry don’t cry don’t cry don’t cry.”

She had never been alone. Not for a minute. She was with me for nine months and in the nursery, and now I was not going to be the one to leave her. She had to pee with me.  That’s just all there was to it.  And if she cried while I was peeing, I have no idea what I would do.

But we made it, we made it through the first night in the hospital, and learning to breastfeed.  We made it through the hours I watched her sleep and periodically poked her to make sure she was alive. We made it through a new brother, and the loss of a family because of divorce.  We made it through a new family, with new siblings. We made it through moving and tears from stupid boys. We made it through the trauma of leaving friends, and the disappointment of new schools.

And we will make it through when she leaves in two weeks to start a new life, at a college, with new friends, and new rhythms.

I’m embracing this relationship thing. This humanity thing. How changing our lives can be but our connections remain. God told us about new seasons, and to live in expectancy of them. In watching Jesus’ life, he had ever changing relationships. And still does.  One day you seek after Him, the next you fail to acknowledge him.

Humanity is about this, changing relationship thing. As our relationships transform, we are forced to as well. Sometimes I wonder if what we struggle with the most in the changing of ourselves. Wondering if we are strong enough, courageous enough to make it through.

That’s why we need a constant, a ‘never changing’. That’s why we need that thing that no matter what relationships come or go….

  • the marriage
  • the girlfriend who ditches you
  • the death of a parent
  • the sister who just wont’ talk to you
  • how she just doesn’t look at you the same anymore
  • how he just doesn’t want to be best friends with his mom
  • the business partner that betrays you
  • the daughter who leaves for college

He will be that  constant, the forever, unchanging…the timelessly faithful.  God knew this humanity he created would be always transforming, so He himself forever remains.  Be courageous, when everything changes, He is there.

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Why Cliques Don’t Disappear After High School

cluelessI hated high school. Dude, did I hate it. So much,  that the moment I discovered I could drop out, get my GED and go straight to college, I ran as fast as I could to sign up. I was an emotional mess and high school was daunting for me. My school educated approximately 3,600 students, 980 of which were in my future graduating class. I hated  feeling lost, I wasn’t challenged in my studies, and spent most of my time utterly confused.

What was hardest on me was the cliques. I was tall, awkward and to say I lacked confidence is a severe understatement. I constantly compared myself to other girls, tried my hardest to find my place, but I only found myself even more misplaced. The girls were ruthless, and loved only those who loved them. Those girls who were my friends in middle school found other places and spaces and boyfriends and activities. I simply roamed the halls, skipped classes, and felt alone.

Ironically, one of my favorite no-brainer movies is Mean Girls. It’s a story of a girl who moves to public education aftspartaner being homeschooled by her missionary parents in Africa. She discovers the hatred & the treachery of the realities of the clique. Oh and then there is Clueless…and of course our favorite SNL Skit with Will Ferrell….

And then there is the Breakfast Club. The absolute quintessential high school movie about cliques, and how at the end of the day…the end of a day at Saturday detention, we are all pretty much the same. This whole idea of exclusion is a universal struggle among all people. I felt like the poster child.

High school was tough and I thought by escaping the hallways, I would escape what I hated the most about them.  One of my Besties and I have had several conversations in the last few weeks about how our problems follow us no matter which state we attempt to escape to….or which school we try and ditch, or job we quit. I remember my first job in corporate America. I discovered rather quickly that high schoomean girlsl antics don’t go away after high school, they simply follow us. The haunting of the clique just seems to never go away…not even in the church.

It’s interesting to me how the entire ministry of Jesus was centered around abolishing the cliques, destroying the idea of exclusivity and challenging people to open their hearts to the least, the confused, the emotional mess. In the Kingdom of God, everyone has a place and it is one of honor. Yet within the Christian community, I witness these groups of people that sometimes seem impenetrable. The same women attend the same Bible studies, the same recovery people attend their groups. There are those who belong to this small group and those who belong to that volunteer group. And everyone has the same group of people they say hi to every week. We tend to only talk to those select neighbors, and those select friends. Seems we have missed the point completely!

We just don’t have time for everyone.

It’s just so uncomfortable.

We want church to be ours.

We want our evenings to be relaxing.

Three or four friends are enough.

We are afraid.

We are too worried about ourselves.

The reasons, the excuses, the rationale, all of it convince us that the safety of our clique is justified, because we are Christians doing life with other Christians.  It’s convoluted, and it’s not Biblical.

We must love everyone, and we must do it intentionally. We must go out of our way. Jesus went out of His way to love me, to give me a place to belong. After years of feeling alone, and even times now when it seems I have no place, I find a place in Him.  There are so many–lots of people–who need for once to NOT feel as if they are outside of the clique. It has to start with us. When Jesus called us to love others, it wasn’t intended to be from a distance. That command was so that we can love others in a way that make us uncomfortable, that forces us to depend on Him, that requires much of us.

Go to a different Bible Study.

Go outside after dinner and take a walk, and talk to your neighbors.

Invite your co-worker to sit with you at lunch.

Say hello to the lady at the grocery store.

We can never have enough friends.

Have that family over for dinner.

Everyone wants to be included.

Why do we love Facebook? Because anyone and everyone is there. Why do we want our kids to play for the YMCA? Everyone gets to play and everyone gets a trophy, everyone is included.

The cliques won’t disappear, but you can choose to not be a part of them anymore. You can choose to include and accept everyone. You can offer the love of Christ to every. single. person. within your reach. You have absolutely no idea who just might need it…it might be me, it might, in fact, be you.

LG|LP

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What I Am Learning As I Get OLD

About this time, 8 years ago, you would have found me curled up on the floor in the fetal position, weeping. As I celebrated my birthday this weekend, I was reminded how much has changed in my life, my heart, since I turned 30.

Thirty was traumatic for me.

For 29 years I told myself that 30 was old. For 29 years I set high expectations for my life. For 29 years I carried the weight of regrets, and mistakes and sin. And then I woke up and was 30. I was old, with no direction, and lots of baggage.

So I wept.

Every day…

For weeks.

weeping

My husband came home from work to find me unshowered, back against the wall, sitting on the floor in a daze. I had to get some help, I had to sort it out. If my car broke down, I’d go to a mechanic. I was a mess, I needed a shower, a washing machine and Jesus!

I dunno, I think we all go through those times in our lives, where we realize that life isn’t what we thought it would be. Someone wrote on a status on FB something like this:

“One day things will go as planned.”

I didn’t want to burst her bubble, but I really wanted to say, “Umm never. Things never go as planned.” Well not never, but almost never. And I could use the first 29 years of my life as case and point. And the last eight years to just throw it all in your face.  Nothing as planned.

I’m still wondering how my plans and God’s plans align, if ever. I think most of the time I simply stumble, and then ooopsey, I find myself some place God can use me. There is always more month than money, I find myself walking places more now than ever, I went an entire year without a haircut, I don’t know the last time I bought clothes. My husband works 70 hours a week, my kids are growing up and moving on and there are days I simply feel like I’m standing still.

But somehow, I no longer weep, I only cry a little.  I don’t curl myself in the fetal position, but there are days I do stay under the covers. I don’t live with too many regrets, only dreams that I keep pressing toward.  I don’t have it figured out, I still question God at times, and I have moments of hopelessness, Then there is God’s grace…  I find that as I am aging, I am so much more grateful for the little things:

A roof over my head

Food in my kitchen

Healthy children

I am taken care of.

Jesus loves me.

All is well.

Until I’m 40…

What are you learning as you grow older? Share with me.

LG|LP

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How Clooney at the Globes Challenge Us to Greatness

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Sunday I sat on the couch watching over privileged, pretentious actors tell each other how amazing they are over food and drinks that cost so much it most likely could have fed the entire population of hungry and homeless of the entire GLOBE.  Hence the name: Golden Globes.  I was not impressed by their hidden LGBT agenda, or their super shiny foreheads, but I did enjoy some of speeches. One in particular struck me.

George Clooney received a lifetime achievement award. His eyes teared, yours perhaps could, too. Or maybe not.

 

 

It dawned on me that there is something to be said about the appreciation of marriage as we grow older. I’m not certain Clooney would have even publicly expressed his love in such a way to a wife at 30, or even 40 years old. At 53, Clooney  appreciates his role as husband. It seems he embraces the feeling and choice to love.

Michael and I are working on our twelfth year of marriage. Only in the last two years have I truly grown to respect the covenant of marriage. Besides this roller coaster we ride called hell LIFE that has taken him and I up and down and then back up and then back down, it has been my age, my mistakes and God-given wisdom that gives me my new outlook.

Marriage is hard, people. So very hard. Hard enough that half of the people who decide to do it, bail out. And then there are the group of people who don’t even dare try.

LOTO

Tom Hanks as Coach Jimmy Dugan said it best in the movie A LEAGUE OF THEIR OWN:

There’s no crying in baseball!

Yah, that was a very. important. statement, by the way.( There is absolutely NO crying in baseball.)

But when Geena Davis’ character Dottie is leaving the team, she explains to her coach:

“It just got too hard.”

And Coach replied:

” It’s supposed to be hard. If it wasn’t hard, everyone would do it. The hard… is what makes it great.”

We all want great marriages. We want to be the Proverbs 31 wife, and our husbands to flawlessly transition from provider to husband to father. We wish we had Clooney’s money because we are tired of being behind on bills, and let’s not even talk about how our kids have outgrown every piece of clothing we bought a few months ago, all $400 of them. We want our co-workers, and fellow MOPS moms to sit around and clap and give us awards so we can tell millions of people how grateful we are for our love and our chemistry that happened after waiting a lifetime for the right person and Praise God, we made the right choice and there is no looking back.

LBR (Let’s Be Real)

It just doesn’t work like that. Because…

Marriage is hard.

But when we do have those moments, those brief exhales when we can look around at our unbathed kids as they giggle at their dad’s crude jokes, and there isn’t one thing on the living room floor, and it is the day you washed your hair, we have our own version of greatness. Embracing those simple, fleeting moments is what gets us through the hard, and is what will make us great. Embracing great moments needs to be enough to fuel us through the hard.

Because your husband may never do a load of laundry for you…

Or know exactly what that squint of your eyes actually means…

or be able to talk to you for two hours starting the second he walks in the door from work.

Your wife might not always have every single dish put away…

or know why she’s crying…..

or understand the burden you carry every day.

But each of you have the possibility of greatness, within your marriage. Embrace it, and love it–like you’re a 53 year old Clooney.

LG | LP

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Ferguson, Garner and Cop Killings through the Eyes of a Bi-Racial Family

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I sat on the couch breathless as the Grand Jury results were released on CNN. There would be no indictment of Officer Darren Wilson in the tragic death of Michael Brown.  Brown’s death was tragic because it was unnecessary, no matter where we place fault. And the tragedy continued as small business-owner’s had their life and livelihood burned down, stores were ravaged and an entire community was completely ruined.

I watched until I couldn’t watch anymore.

We talked about it, for days. We muddled through the events, the quick shift in the tide of the Nation and how our world needs, well let’s be real, it needs Jesus. But we didn’t just talk about it from a middle-class, churched, Suburban America perspective. We talked about it from the perspective of black, Hispanic, white, mixed and law enforcement—because our family is all of those things.

I am white.

My husband is black—his background is in law enforcement, he is currently a forensic investigator with a Masters in Criminal Justice.

My two (step)daughters are black.

My son and daughter are half Hispanic, half white.

My youngest son is half black and half white.

We are a blended, bi-racial family.

We have learned that the world is very jaded and racism is alive and breeding right here, down your street, in your family, at your church. It is based on ignorance, and lack of respect for the whole of humanity.

We have heard comments like:

“What is it like to have a black step dad?”

“Wow, your kids look really Mexican.”

“Your mom is white? That’s not your mom!”

“How is that your last name, you don’t even look Hispanic at all?”

When my husband and I started dating, I was on the receiving end of racism for the first time in my life. I married a black man, and the black community has not always welcomed me.

Recently my son texted me this photo found on the wall in his high school, where the demographic is predominately Hispanic:

 

taft racism

 

When we walk into a restaurant, we get glances and blatant stares. People don’t know what to make of us.  My kids have fun with it. I was at Walmart with all five of them, and they convinced everyone I was their adoptive mom, who rescued them from the foster system. I walked out of that store a saint that day.

 

But I am their mom, 3 of the 5 came out of my womb. My husband is their dad—biologically 3 of the 5. We don’t see our race, our color, or origin. We are family. I don’t think about my husband being black, and don’t look at my kids as Mexican or Hispanic. They are just my kids. We don’t have to “work hard” at not seeing the color of our eyes or skin or hair as a definition of who we are.

So when these things happen—these racially charged issues, these murders, these injustices—we are forced to reconcile who we are individually and as a whole—and re-examine our worldview.

My husband’s perspective is unique. He has been a patrol officer, in dangerous situations with all races. He is military combat trained, he is highly educated, and considering law for his future. But he is also black, and has been on the receiving end of profiling of police officers, where respect and courtesy only come to him AFTER the police officer finds out he too is in law enforcement. Being a former officer, and a current investigator he also has great respect for law, and the reality of consequences for our actions.

I grew up in a predominately white family, although my step-dad is Hispanic and my younger brother is white and Hispanic. I lived a somewhat sheltered life, and my grandparents, who were influential in raising me, grew up in segregated Texas. They were loving and accepting of all people, yet traces of their childhood remained.

My son and daughter are also mixed with Hispanic and white.  They are influenced by both races, and are exposed to their Hispanic culture, yet don’t see themselves as anything but simply, people.

My (step)daughters grew up in a predominately black community. They went to an all black private school, and attended an all black church. As they have grown up, they have embraced the diversity of our world, and love people just because they are people.

Then there is the youngest: Half black, half white, with 2 black sisters, and a Hispanic brother and sister. He gets lots of questions, and I’m grateful that he has yet to experience any overt racism.

But as we sit and watch CNN and read the tweets—and we hear of police officers being murdered, it all hits us, because we are all of those things. We aren’t just the white cop who was the shooter, or the black teenager who was shot—we are both. We aren’t just the people angry at the injustice of the world or just the police officer who got killed leaving his family behind, we are both.

We can’t pick a side, because there is no side to pick.

I remember dreading time on the playground during recess when teams got picked to play soccer. That was the worst feeling, not knowing if you were even going to get picked at all. But it didn’t really matter as long as you got to play.

Somehow, our society believes that we have to pick a team, but by picking a team, we are leaving out the most important thing—the privilege of humanity. We watch the racial divide growing, and are stunned at the growing fire of racism because we know it’s possible…It is possible to look beyond stereotypes.

It is possible to look at a person’s actions apart from their skin color.

It is possible to embrace humanity.

It is possible to take responsibility for who you are, without blame.

It is possible to co-exist.

It is possibly to live in harmony.

It is possible to simply love.

I don’t have any other solution but this:

We must learn to love, in an unconditional way, with deep humility and passionate servanthood. We must teach our kids, and every other kid we are in contact with, ever in our entire life, that people are human—not black or white or Hispanic or Asian or … We must push our kids out of their comfort zones—we must push them into situations where they are forced to see the world through a multi-colored lens. (I know too many kids who live in middle-class bubbles whose parents won’t make the effort to expand their perspective on the world. Not just from a race perspective, but from a socio-economic one as well). We must take responsibility for our own thoughts, ideas, and the conclusions we jump to because it’s the way we have always thought.

We must challenge ourselves to walk through Samaria, and talk to those we wouldn’t normally talk to, regardless of how they dress, or what type of education they have or what they have done in their past. We can’t change this generation, but we can change the next!

But we can’t do that alone.

Until we admit that we need help, until we humble ourselves, and admit that we need the power of Jesus to flow into us and then out of us, we will remain the same—living in the impossible.

It is only in Christ that all things are possible.

I’m grateful for my possible— for my bi-racial, blended family. I believe, even in our imperfections and failures, we are a picture of the power of the love of Christ!

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