Posted in Motherhood

Decisions. Decisions.

Decisions.
Decisions.

How many thousands of decisions do we have to make as moms?

We want to make all the right ones.

From small things like how much screen time is healthy (if any at all) for our kids to huge ones like how much freedom to give during their teen years.

From easy ones like serving vegetables to difficult ones like whether or not we should make them eat them.

From simple ones like what to send for lunch to highly complicated ones like whether they should get counseling for very troubling behavior.

Constant decisions bombard us, many we are just not prepared for.

Add some out-of-our-control factors in and boy-oh-boy, we’re thrown for a loop or paralyzed like a deer caught in some high beams.

So what are we moms to do? Where can we turn for help?

I’ve been thinking and wondering and have a half-thought, if you will bear with me. (A half-thought is where I am landing right now in the answer to a particular question. It could change in the future, so I hold it very loosely.)

Here we go!

I can’t think of a single situation where WISDOM isn’t a very welcome companion when making all the thousands of choices that come our way, especially on our mom journeys.

Wisdom doesn’t make decisions solely based on feelings or circumstances. As a mom, I tend to do that ALL.THE.TIME. I am consumed and overtaken by immediate circumstances and the feelings that go along with them so much so that they dictate my choices instead of inform them.

Wisdom isn’t reactive and reckless. I’m not sure about you, but my kids stir the pot inside of me and what’s being held in check bubbles to the surface, where a normal, but unhealthy reaction comes blurting out.

Wisdom also isn’t black or white, write or wrong, yes or no. It’s so much easier as a mom to have blanket one-size-fits-all rules, but is it good? Is it wise?

Wisdom, on the other hand, is responsive and comes from a deep well of goodness, from God Himself.

It is a gentle friend that guides us to make insightful, well-thought out, clear-headed, good decisions.

It helps us to hold relationship as more valuable than rules and keeps us grounded, yet malleable in the complexity of the journey we are on.

It feels calm and hopeful, exactly what we need in those fretful mom moments.

No wonder we all wish we had more of it!

Here’s some good news.

Scripture compassionately reminds us that God isn’t stingy with this gift He has inside Himself.

He doesn’t shame us when we don’t avail ourselves of it the way we might. He is gentle with us, reminding us that He promises to give it to us when we just ASK. Simply ASK.

We have loads of decisions ahead of us each day and on this never-ending mom journey. I would hazard a guess that choices on how to navigate this path will continue for our lifetimes.

It sure doesn’t seem to be slowing down for me anytime soon. I need WISDOM every single day in every single choice I make.

But I have to keep reminding myself in this #notetoself:

We have the source of all WISDOM just waiting for us to ASK for it! He wants it for us more than we even want it for ourselves!

Because He has complete understanding of how GOOD it is for us, He can’t wait to generously LAVISH it on us!

LAVISH (v.) – bestow something in generous or extravagant quantities on

If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. (James 1:5)

 

Posted in Faith, Grief, Motherhood

What Kind of World Are My Kids Growing Up In?

What kind of a world are my kids growing up in?

The question that plagued me on that dreadful morning 20 years ago.

I had four little ones scampering around at the time, one toddler half-naked and being potty trained (we all remember exactly what was going on that morning, right?).

Is it a world filled with consuming hate?

ONLY and awful hate?

How would I tell them that their friend’s dad had been killed?

How would I shake my own fear of it happening again and this time it would be their dad who had worked in NYC for most of their young lives?

How? How? How?

How will they know love?

ONLY and wonderful love?

The love that casts out fear in the form of a firefighter saying “I’ve got you. Come with me”?

The love that wins in the end as yellow ribbons don every mailbox for miles and miles and miles for months and months and months?

Today, my big kids are still scampering around, albeit fully-clothed, and the world still often seems consumed with hate.

ONLY and awful hate?

But it’s not true.

It’s not ONLY.

Both hate and love exist, intertwined in all of our hearts.

Along with a million other parts.

Mine. And theirs.

All I have to do is look back at these 20 years to see all the ways hate and love (and a million other parts) have shown up as I’ve raised my fearsome foursome.

They’ve brought harm.
Pain. Heartache.

But also…

They’ve brought joy.
Healing. Hope.

What kind of world are my kids growing up in?

The question that plagued me for a lot longer than that dreadful morning and still does often.

The answer is simple. And also super complicated.

It’s the wonderful, messy, awful, sacred, hateful, loving, broken, brave, and still healing world.

It’s a world filled with us.

Every single one of us.

Posted in Motherhood

Tamed?

“Are we going to see the wild horses?” my not-yet-college-bound, have-to-be-dragged-everywhere, youngest asked.  “You promised.”

We were on a college visit trip with her older brother. 5 colleges in 5 days.

The drive to see these mythical creatures on an exotic island was a

bout an hour out of the way and I was exhausted from tours about professors/safety/dorms and hotel rooms with weird smells/bad breakfasts/non-working hot tubs.

But my memory of the picture on the cover of the book, Misty of Chincoteague, a beautiful wild horse and her foal, drew me in and convinced me to keep said promise.

As we pulled in to the park and made our way to the restrooms before embarking on our glorious, out-of-the-way adventure, signs warned not to feed the horses as they may bite and to ensure our safety by staying 40-feet away. This was exciting!

Bladders empty, we were ready! We couldn’t wait to see these wild creatures, prancing in the sand dunes and uttering high-pitched neighs.

What happened next was stranger than strange.

We rounded the corner and there was a horse, in the middle of the parking lot. Not prancing. Not neighing. Standing. Still. So still, we thought it might be a taxidermist’s latest “stuffing” project.

We got out. Walked around it. It did NOT move. Just stood there. We did see it take a breath, so we surmised it was alive and didn’t belong at the local Cabela’s.

We had so hoped to happen upon a wild, prancing, neighing horse, enjoying the sands of Virginia beaches and its ability to roam FREE.

But what we found was more like a TAMED mule ready to plow the fields under the guise of some master who needed to get things done.

As we ventured on the park pathways, we saw a few more horse-mules milling around, and I can assure you that we were not scared, or excited, not even one little bit.

We got back in our cars and my mom thoughts took off into those mom places only they can go.

Are these horses like my kids?

Longing for adventure, FREEDOM, and curiosity to discover, hope and dream?

But standing around, TAMED, bored and controlled because of how me, as a mom, and society, as a whole, has directed them?

Don’t bite.
Stand still.
Be quiet.

Don’t stand up for yourself (your true self). Fit in.
Do what everyone else is doing. Stay in the box.
Control yourself at all costs. Never color outside of the lines.

College visits.
What everyone else did.
What we were supposed to do.

Over the next days, I kept coming back and back to my thoughts about these horse-mules and my kids.

I did not want them to be mules. I wanted them to be horses. WILD ONES. Not TAMED into submission to some arbitrary set of rules that who knows who made up.

I wanted them to be FREE. To discover, hope and dream.

I talked and talked and talked to them about it. And then talked some more.

Guess what happened?

My college-bound son said, “NOPE.”
He decided to take a gap year.
He enjoyed his senior year without the pressure of choosing.
He never went to any of those 5 we had visited on that trip.
He discovered a school that made his heart happy.
FREEDOM.

My baby watched him intently.
She spent an extra year with him, becoming the best of friends.
When it was her turn, she chose an out-of-the-box school and got her Bachelor’s degree in two years. Two long, hard years.
She moved to California at 19 to pursue her dreams, graduation behind her.
She wants to win an Emmy.
FREEDOM.

Guess what else happened?

I began to wonder the same thing about me.

Do I have the FREEDOM to discover, hope and dream?

As a middle-aged, regular, mom who has always played by the rules?
Who didn’t bite, stood still and was quiet?

The answer: YES. YES I DO.

I might stand up for myself.
What if I forge my own way?
Maybe I will even draw my own lines to color inside.
We’ll see how it all plays out.
It’s going to be good.
FREEDOM.

Posted in Family, Motherhood

Beyond Tired (Exhausted Actually)

There was a mom who was really tired. BEYOND TIRED.

She was counting down the hours to “end” her active parenting.
It had been every day for 25++ years.

She found herself sitting on the floor, covered in empty boxes, about to sleep on a futon that had been through her three other college kids and was now gracing the dorm room of her baby.

She couldn’t believe she was finally here.
But she knew why she was absolutely exhausted. Who wouldn’t be?

She lay awake thinking about ALL.THE.THINGS.

  • Q-tips covered in alcohol carefully for 10 days on each of four babies’ umbilical cords until that gross thing turned black and fell off

  • Shopping with four children under seven (it was like taking four goats to the store…I “kid” you not…get it? get it? I “kid” you not)

  • Sorting legos into bags by color, size and type at least 52 times (to be exact)

  • Playing Ms. PacMan on Nintendo 64 surrounded by eight excited eyes until she beat all the levels and killed the witch

  • Filling out back-to-school forms until her eyes twitched and hands curled up in agony (can’t this be computerized school board?)

  • Packing 180 (# of days in a school year) X 4 (# of kids in her house) X 13 (# of school years) lunches (equals 9,360)

  • Chore charts, memory verse charts, learn-to-pee-and-poop-on-the-potty charts, and behavior charts, all complete with stickers and prizes

  • Watching (or at least hearing from the kitchen) ad nauseam reruns from the Disney Channel, Nick Jr., PBS, Cartoon Network and Netflix

  • Coaching and watching basketball, soccer, baseball, lacrosse, wrestling, field hockey, swimming, track, volleyball, and softball (the records for all of those sports combined probably .500 exactly)

  • Listening to piano, clarinet, bassoon, guitar, and recorders (yikes!)

  • Doctor, dentist, oral surgeon, voice therapist, orthodontist, counselor, ENT, orthopedic surgeon and emergency room visits enough that she should have “frequent shopper cards” (buy 10 visits, get one free)

  • Themed birthday parties each year complete with specialized decorations and games (Pin the Tail on Pikachu anyone?)

  • Graduations from preschool to middle school to high school to college (secretly bored out of her mind, but still taking all the pictures)

  • Driving at least 5 or 6 times the distance of the globe to practices, lessons, youth groups, parties, play dates, school, and girl/boyfriend’s houses

  • 3,247 fights over paper-cup lids, halloween candy, bathroom etiquette (or lack thereof), and on and on and on

  • Teaching (or more true, freaking out in the passenger’s seat) four teens how to drive

  • Moving four kids in and out of college dorms and college apartments (one night she actually slept on bath mats…the softest thing she could find in said child’s off-campus apartment)

You can see why she was wiped out. W-I-P-E-D out!

A couple of days later, back home snug in her bed, hoping to finally get some much-needed sleep, she patted herself on the back for a mom job well done.

As she headed off to dreamland at the luscious hour of 10 pm, her phone DINGED, the familiar tone reserved for her blessed four.

It was a text from her college junior. “Mom, can you help? I need to figure out how to switch a class.”

She quickly responded, telling him he needed to wait until the morning.

“Okay Mom. Love you.”

“Love you too. We’ll figure it out.”

Five minutes later, another DING, same familiar tone.

Slightly annoyed, she checked to make sure all was well with whoever was now texting.

Her recent college graduate was sending a note from the kitchen.“Mom, where are the spatulas?”

She told him which drawer. He said he already looked there. She unwrapped herself from her cozy covers and walked down the long flight of stairs. She opened said drawer. It was right there, hiding in plain site.

“Thanks Mom. Love you.”

“Love you too. Good night. Please clean up after yourself.”

She marched herself right back up those stairs, slipping back under her covers and shutting her heavy lids. Sleep came quickly.

DING! DING!

Same tone.

Different child (this time, adult and oldest child living on her own).

“Mom? You up? I’m a wreck. Can’t sleep. My roommate is being a jerk. I think I should move out. What do you think I should do?”

She pressed #2 on speed dial.

After 45 minutes of listening and listening and listening and then more listening, the two of them said the same words to each other since forever.

“Love you to the moon, Mom.”
“And I love you all the way to the moon and back again, Peanut.”

She was now fully awake. She tossed and turned and tossed and turned.

The clock had struck midnight and her restless legs were acting up.

LOVELY.

She peed.
She turned her pillow over to the cool side.
She prayed.
She stared into the darkness.
She irritatingly glanced at her fast-asleep spouse, mouth agape.

DING! again.

“WHAT NOW? WHO NOW?”

It was her baby.

“Mom, I love you. And miss you. Sorry if I woke you up.”

She answered pronto.

“Love you too, honey. And miss you like crazy!”

She laid her head back on her not-cool-enough pillow, closing her eyes tight. Wise words from an older mom friend echoed in her mind, and she understood them just a little bit better.

“This parenting gig never ends, because love never ends.”

She drifted off (FINALLY) to a sweet sleep, all phones quiet.

As she woke in the morning, her mom body ached a little and she was still tired, exhausted actually, but her mom heart, just like every day for 25++ years, was full to the brim.

Posted in Family, Motherhood

Every Parent’s Never-Ending Battle

It starts early:

Should we PUT DOWN our four-month old (let him “cry it out”) or PICK him UP when he is fussy? Holding him tends to calm him. He sleeps better. He stops crying. He is basically happier.

It continues: 

How about the daily battle of knowing how much to help our budding adult children (pick them up when they are “fussy”) or let them figure things out on their own (many times painful and uncomfortable)? Helping them tends to calm them. They sleep better. They stop “fussing.” They are basically happier.

It never ends:

What about an aging parent’s battle about how much to help their youngest son with the care of his children? He lost his wife about a year ago and the situation is complicated. They are 84. He is 56. Helping him calms the situation. Everyone sleeps better. The “fussing” is abated. He is basically happier.

No matter how old our child is, the battle of whether or not to PICK UP or PUT DOWN is one we will fight until our last breath.

It can be teaching a baby to sleep by themselves, driving a forgotten homework assignment to school for your elementary daughter, purchasing a car for your new driver, allowing an adult child to live at home rent-free for a season, watching grandchildren for your middle-aged son, the list goes on and on.

The questions are basic:

How much do I “PICK UP,” help, console, “save the day,” when my child has a need or even a want?

How much do I let them “ride out the storm,” figure it out on their own, “PUT them DOWN” so to speak?

Where is that line drawn?
When is that line drawn?
How is that line drawn?

What choice should we make so that we are promoting emotional health and good boundaries, yet making sure the other feels safe and completely loved?

We fight this battle on the daily, no matter how we old we are or how simple or complicated the situation is.

Our hearts burn with this question:

“What should I do in “X” situation with “such-and-such” child? Do I PICK them UP or PUT them DOWN?”

If I “PICK them UP,” the voices in my cute little brain shout loudly.

You are doing too much.
Your boundaries are too lax.
They need to learn for themselves.
This is unhealthy.
This is bad.

If I don’t help and PUT them DOWN, I hear opposing and equally noisy voices.

You aren’t doing enough.
Your boundaries are too rigid.
They need to feel loved and not alone.
This is unhealthy.
This is bad.

Ugh. Double Ugh.

So what do we do when we feel trapped in this impossible and never-ending battle?

  • We remind ourselves that even though the questions seem easy, the situations are complicated. No two are the same and rarely is there a quick answer or fix.
  • We recognize that this dilemma is part of being a parent, period. There’s no getting out of it.
  • We realize that other parents are in the same boat. We all need each other, not to judge and give solutions, but to listen and give grace.
  • We stop asking ourselves if the decision is right or wrong, black or white, good or bad. Rarely are decisions that we make all one way or the other. That’s an exhausting treadmill and only promotes fear, guilt and shame. Either decision will have both difficult and wonderful attached to it. Usually it’s some combination of beautiful and messy.
  • We ask these questions instead: What do I really need? Why do I want to help? What do they really need? We can take the long-view and dig a little deeper.
  • We allow ourselves to change our minds if we need to. We give ourselves permission to re-evaluate and get counsel from others. There is great freedom here.
  • We show ourselves boatloads of grace no matter what we decide. We remind ourselves that God loves both of us and He can come in and provide all that’s lacking no matter what decision is made in the moment.
  • And lastly, we ask God for wisdom because He gives it GENEROUSLY and FREELY to all without finding fault, and we trust that will be given to us (James 1:5).

Do not forget, my friend, that we are in the same “mom boat,” paddling along, trying not to sink and, at the same time, enjoying the big, bumpy, beautiful ride together.

From my heart to yours.

Posted in Faith, Family, Motherhood

It Wasn’t Pretty

It wasn’t pretty.

What started out as a kind gesture on my part turned into a knock-down, drag-out fight with my teen.

On a summer day, as he slept in, I snuck his keys and took his car to the coin-operated car wash and vacuum place around the corner.  I wanted to surprise him with a clean car full of gas just to send him a mom/teen son “love note.”

As I opened his trunk, that sweet, knowing fragrance that I had often smelled in my brother’s car wafted to my nose.  POT.  It was P-O-T.

My mom heart did flips of fear, anger, shock, and shame.

What if he gets caught?  What if he ends up in jail?  Is he dealing?  How often is he using?

How dare he?!?!?!?  After all we’ve done for him!  Just wait until I get home!!! This is the end of the line!  This car is not going anywhere for a long time!  Neither is he!

What in the world?!  How did I not know?  He’s such a great kid!  This just isn’t happening.  UGH.

What am I doing wrong?  I must not be _______ (fill in the blank) enough.  What if they find out at church?  Or almost worse, on his team?  What will they think of me?  And him?

As I finished up the vacuuming and slid the wet wipe over the final seat, I drove home still flipping through all of those emotions, my eyes wet and my heart pounding.

I raced up to his room, threw open his door, and began to yell.  I mean yell.  He woke up dazed and confused.

It was NOT my finest parenting moment by a long shot.

All my fear, anger, shock and shame came tumbling out in words and threats I don’t care to share.

He fumbled back with excuses and “relax Mom.”  Needless to say, that didn’t help at all.
After I was done with my rant, I made my way to my bedroom closet and just sobbed.

What am I going to do?  How can this be fixed?  How can I make him stop?

At first, my controlling, black-and-white, formulaic parenting reared its head.

FEAR was beckoning and overtaking my mind, my heart, my soul, and even my spirit.

He is grounded.  He can’t have a door to his room.  No more car!  I will drug test him every week.  He could really mess up himself, his future, and us!  I am going to fix this!!!

Guess what?  My natural, very unhealthy, unwise, go-to way of parenting did not work.

I couldn’t control him.  I couldn’t fix him.

I was at an absolute loss, one of the first times in all of my motherhood journey that I couldn’t figure out.  Or solve.

I needed something.  Something different.  Something new.

A friend began to pray for me.  I began to pray.

Not prayers that sound fluffy and happy and like I have it all together.

More like prayers that were filled with curse words and “help me” and guttural sobs on my knees.

One day, a still small voice spoke to my heart.

“This isn’t about him, my Sweet Mama.  It’s about you.  I am here to help you.  You are not alone.”

I sat right there and cried.  This time, not the tears of despair, but ones of hope.

“I am the Lord, your God, who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go.”  (Isaiah 48:17)

I paused.  Listened.

I sought counsel.  From my friends.  From my spiritual mentors.  From a counselor.  And from the Holy Spirit, the most trusted Counselor of all.

In fits and starts, fear raging back at times and supernatural peace overwhelming at others, I got HELP.

HELP in the form of wisdom, not having it all figured out, and all my controlling ducks-in-a-row.

HELP in the form of guidance, being provided only the next right thing to do on any given day with this sweet child of mine.

HELP in the form of comfort, knowing that God can reach into those places in his heart that I have never been able to, no matter how much I have wanted to.

Lastly, HELP in the form of a beautiful, soul-resting, peace-bringing thought, one for my beautiful, but hurting mom heart:

Even if my ‘brain-hasn’t-fully-developed’ child makes a wrong or foolish choice that seems life-altering in all the worst ways, God can weave it into their story so that when it comes down to it, it’s the “right” one. He’s just able to do it.

This has not been an easy road. It’s been an up-and-down, twisty-turny one.  It’s been one that I wouldn’t have chosen.  But it’s one that I’ve needed and has allowed me to grow into a much larger space with this God who loves me and loves those I love even more than I do or ever will.  I am truly grateful.

So today, my friend, remember that God’s got you, no matter what crazy and hard road you are traveling right now.  He’s got your child.

Take a long, slow, deep breath with me, resting in His tender and loving arms, knowing that He is WITH us and FOR us, and we are not alone.

**first published on Liquid Church Family Devotional**

Posted in Childhood, Family, Grief, Motherhood, Thanks

Two Spoons

I could see that she was holding back tears as she walked down the steps of the school bus and into the passenger seat of our family minivan.

The words came tumbling out like a waterfall, “He broke up with me at lunch.”

My heart sank as I watched her body curl into a ball and her head flush against the window, tears flowing freely now.

“Oh honey. I’m so sorry. I know how much you liked him.”

I laid my hand on her arm for a moment and she wrapped herself further into a ball. Silence ensued for the rest of our drive home.

She bolted into the house and to her room, shutting the door. I followed her up the stairs, and as I rested my head on her closed door, I could barely make out muffled sobs.

My heart sank even more. My girl was hurting. And no matter what I did or said in that moment, it probably wouldn’t help at all. She was suffering the normal heartbreak that comes with first kisses, first crushes and first rejections.

I would just let her be for now, alone with her own heart and all the feelings that were new and confusing and downright difficult. It was the best and only thing I knew to do. It seemed to be what she wanted and needed the most.

I meandered to the kitchen, not sure what to do with myself. I wanted to run right back upstairs and wipe her tears away with a kiss, a hug, an emotional bandaid, an “I love you” or one of the other many mom tricks I had up my sleeve. Not this time. Instead, all I could do was pray (and I sure did) and feel awkward and start to make dinner.

Time seemed to march ever so slowly that afternoon, normal when pain is loud for us or someone we love. Time feels achingly long and almost cruel. Why can’t it pass quickly so that we are on the other side of loss and grief and back to our hopeful selves?

How I wished that for her that insufferable day.

Right before dinner, there was a knock at our front door. Odd at that time of day.

I glanced through the window and right in front of my own teary eyes, one of my daughter’s best friends was anxiously standing there, carrying two spoons and a huge container of my girl’s favorite ice cream flavor.

I opened the door, gave her a quick, thankful hug and whispered, “She’s up in her room.”

I heard another knock, footsteps, a door open and then shut again.

Talk about strange and hard for my mama self, yet somehow wonderful and what I hoped for all at the same time.

What I couldn’t do anymore as a mom (as much as I desperately wanted to), her friend was able to do. Listen. Relate. Comfort. Eat ice cream out of the container right before dinner.

All so normal for that season of her life.

I kept milling around the kitchen, gratitude welling up inside of me for this friendship that my daughter had.

The kind that goes to the grocery store instead of her dance practice.

The kind that shows up instead of stays away.

The kind that hangs out with the tears instead of just the laughs.

I heard the front door close and a car pull away.

In what seemed like only a few moments, her friend was gone again, just like that.

Had it been enough for that very miserable afternoon?

I wondered what would happen next.

Only moments went by when I heard the familiar creaking of my girl’s door opening and loud footsteps down the stairs.

She bounded into the kitchen, hair a mess, eyes all puffy, but the next words out of her mouth were priceless.

“I’m going to be okay, Mom, even if I’m not right now.”

She threw her arms around me and we hugged for a long time and as I held her close, I knew deep inside that it had all been enough.

“What’s for dinner?” she quietly asked.

As we unwrapped ourselves, I whispered one last thing into her ear, “I made your favorite.”

Posted in Family, Motherhood

I’m Glad I Will Never Know the Answer

Adventure (noun): An experience or activity that is unusual and exciting, typically hazardous.

Motherhood is one of the great ones. The feeling of trepidation as we rubbed our burgeoning bellies and yet the happy butterflies inside of them is still almost palpable for us.

We are thrust out of the safety of our personal space into the great unknown.

We’re stretched into all things NEW.

A NEW person entering into the landscape of our very existence.

Many NEW ideas about how life actually works.
NEW and completely surprising experiences never known before.
Seriously. A whole NEW life for us.

We don’t know what’s ahead, or just around the corner.

It might be something scary or a huge happy surprise.

It could be “the” dreaded phone call or a simple unexpected “I love you” text from our child.

The not knowing freaks us out and ushers in hope all at the same time.

We come to know that it’s not all rainbows and butterflies, but it’s also not all monsters and mean girls.

It runs the whole gamut, all the feels, and all the things.

The different scary, joyous, disappointing, tear-laced, hilarious, exhausting, and love-filled things.

Yet somehow, we wouldn’t it trade for the world.

It’s a wild ride, but a wonderful one.

Even if it we cried looking at those two lines on the pregnancy test and wished it wasn’t happening, motherhood has woven together the larger story that makes us us.

Who would we be without it and especially without the one who took us on the adventure to begin with?

I am glad I will never know the answer.

Posted in Faith, Motherhood

A Six-Letter Word That Changes My Life Every Day

BLACK OR WHITE!!!

Do you hear me???

BLACK OR WHITE!!!

Good or bad.
Wrong or right.
Yes or no.

How much do I love these?

They make life so much easier.
I know what to do and what not to do.

It’s clear cut.
No weird subtleties that confuse others and me the most.

GRAY?
Good enough?
Wrongish?
It depends?

How difficult are these for me?  They make all my decisions so much harder.
But easier is NOT always better.  By any stretch.

We’ve seen enough of that in our homes, in our neighborhoods, at our workplaces, in church and especially on social media.

CHOOSE ONE OR THE OTHER!
YOU HAVE TO!!!

CHOOSE SIDES.

One is 100% wrong and one is absolutely right!

And if you don’t choose what I choose, you will be disowned.

Kicked out.
Not talked to.
Cancelled.

UGH!

There seems to be a huge missing factor in what I love and what can be easier, but not better.

It’s a little six-letter word called WISDOM.

W.I.S.D.O.M.

Wisdom says it’s not always black and white, good or bad, right or wrong, yes or no!

Wisdom allows for the whole possibly-hidden story behind what’s outwardly visible.

Wisdom often brings a third out-of-the-box thought, path, or decision.

Wisdom isn’t simple or easy much of the time.

It can nuanced and difficult.

It requires grace and patience and seeing things from many angles.

Wisdom is the way of Jesus.

He’s all about it. He doesn’t get caught up in the ALWAYS this or ALWAYS that.
He’s all about the SOMETIMES.

Sometimes it’s the right thing to walk away and shake the dust off of your feet.
And others it’s the right thing to stay and lean in and heal those in your path.

Sometimes it’s the right thing to break hard and fast man-made rules.
And others it’s the right thing to follow them closely.

Sometimes it the right thing to turn water into wine in celebration.
And others it’s the right thing to turn wine into a symbol of grief and remembrance.

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TRUE STORY:

When our son was a senior in high school, he and his classmates went to a very sketchy (to say the least) beach hotel for the weekend after prom.

This mama white-knuckled it on her knees through those 48-hours.

When he came home, he shared a crazy story.

A boy in his “suite” (if you can even call them that) had brought some heavy-duty drugs with him and was using them openly.

Our son did NOT want to be involved in the slightest and needed to figure out what to do, where to sleep.

Guess what he chose: to sleep in his friends’ room on the floor.

That sounds simple enough, but it’s not. His friends were girls.

Normally, this mama would never have praised her son’s choice for sleeping in the same room with four bikini-clad, beautiful members of the opposite sex. I would have freaked out just a little (okay, a lot).

But I did just that. “Wise choice!” I said to him. “I’m so glad you came up with that option and acted on it.”

How crazy is that?!?

After he walked out of the room, I breathed a quick thank you prayer for not only God keeping him safe that weekend, but granting him wisdom in the middle of not-the-greatest of options.

I was stretched out of my own black-and-white thinking in a way that still surprises me now.

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So today, when the rubber meets the road and I find myself tempted to fall into the easier way of doing life, I hope to choose the much much better way of WISDOM.

It might be more work and I might be hugely uncomfortable, but it will be worth it.

For me. And for the people around me.

Posted in Family, Motherhood

Nervous-Wreck Mom

Once upon a time, there was a mom who was a nervous wreck.

She didn’t quite know what to do.

She wanted to have “the talk.”

Not the one about the birds and the bees.
Not the one about just saying no.
Not the one about the future.

It was a completely different, way more nuanced and complicated one.

The kind that might make her big kid get defensive.
Or shut her out.

The kind where she went through all the scenarios in her head.

When should she do it?
How should approach the subject?
What should she say?

This or that or the other thing?

Her mind raced and looped and her stomach got all knotty inside.

She loved this big kid so desperately.
She had worked so hard on keeping her mouth shut and her opinions to herself.
She did not want to do anything that would hurt this kid or their relationship.

But this was one of those times when talking was really important.

It couldn’t and shouldn’t be swept under that rug where the pile grows and then there is a huge bump that no one can get over or around.

This was one of those times when talking was scary, but oh so necessary and really good.

For her big kid.
And for her.

She got up the gumption after a few nervous-nelly days to say, “Can we take a walk just by ourselves?”

When the answer was “I’d love to Mom,” she said a little prayer for help, mustered up her brave mom heart, put on her cute white shoes and took the first step out the door and into what might end up horrible or wonderful.

At first, she asked lots of questions that had nothing to do with anything about anything.

She was hoping to make it feel like she didn’t have this weird mom agenda that was about to pounce.

Next, she talked about all the beautiful sights on the walk, the tulip trees in bloom and how the neighbor had shaved her dog in the strangest of ways.

She was avoiding.

Finally, in the most normal, not awkward mom way she possibly could, she carefully tiptoed her way into “the talk.”

She tried so hard not to “set her big kid straight.”
She tried so hard to listen and understand.
She tried so hard to share her thoughts and concerns from a place of love and not fear.

And guess what?

It went better than she could have imagined.

What could have gone sideways, upside-down or completely backwards went mostly straight.

What could have ended in tears, slammed doors and broken hearts ended in a hug.

It wasn’t because this mom did it all perfectly. That is not true, not true at all.

This mom actually does not really have any idea why it went so well.

Maybe it was because the Tender Lover of both of their souls softened their hearts.

Maybe it was because they had slept well and eaten a good breakfast.

Maybe it was because they just loved each other and had worked really hard to do these kinds of talks better than they had done a million other times.

Maybe it was none of those things.

Who really knows?

But this mom does know a few things right now.

She can take a deep breath and her tummy can unknot.

She will offer a huge prayer of thanks.

She is not a nervous-wreck mom anymore. She is a glad one.