My world changed forever the first time I laid my eyes on my child. More importantly, my heart changed forever the first time I laid my eyes on them. From the moment I saw them, I knew something that I would never be able to “un-know,” the anchoring feeling and experience of unconditional love.
It’s a love that’s hard to explain with words. It’s a love that doesn’t lessen even if I am hurt, angry, sad, weary, panicked, exhausted, confused, frustrated, afraid or despairing. Nothing is able to fully quench it.
It’s a love that doesn’t increase just because I’m grateful, happy, rested, proud, peaceful, hopeful, confident, content, or optimistic. It’s a love that dwells in the secret, sacred space of my heart that’s reserved just for this one person, my child.
The experience of this inescapable kind of love for my now mostly grownups gives me a powerful, albeit limited glimpse into God’s unconditional love for me.
Nothing is able to make God’s love expand or diminish in any way. It’s steady and enduring, permanent and unfailing. This continuing peek into God’s heart for me (and thankfully for them) has the power to radically change me in only all the best ways. It’s a mighty force that brings life and healing the way nothing else can. For me and for them.
“May your roots go down deep into the soil of God’s marvelous love. May you have the power to grasp how WIDE, how LONG, how HIGH and how DEEP His love really is. May you experience the love of Christ, which far surpasses mere knowledge. It will fill you with the richest experience of God’s presence in your life, completely filled and flooded with God Himself.” (Ephesians 3:17-19)
“There’s a boy who stole my heart. He calls me mom.” (I have no idea where this came from)
YOU ARE THE ONE, Joshua Brian Goetz, who burst on the scene on April 4, 1996, weighing in at 9 pounds and 13 ounces (yikes!).
YOU ARE THE ONE who started out with baby acne and a fairly largish head and I felt mild pity for (just being honest) and a lot of extra love.
YOU ARE THE ONE who became the most adorable baby with your year-long toothless smile (so much for my pity party).
YOU ARE THE ONE who took three naps until you were one, giving this tired mommy a much-needed respite from handling three little ones under five!
YOU ARE THE ONE who sat with books in your crib for hours, happily “reading.” (Little did we know then that you are a high introvert and this was your plot to have some peace and quiet away from your hovering and excitable siblings.)
YOU ARE THE ONE who would only color with the orange crayon.
YOU ARE THE ONE who had all 150 Pokemon characters memorized and their “moves” when you were only three!
YOU ARE THE ONE we called Spot because you have had EVERY. SINGLE. POSSIBLE. RASH known to the medical community (you just had another one two months ago)!
YOU ARE THE ONE who hid behind the couch every time I left the room and jumped out and yelled “SURPRISE!” when I returned (one of my all-time best memories)!
YOU ARE THE ONE who wore some kind of cape everywhere we went, which morphed from a bandana to a full-fledged home-made BAT cape! You were my little superhero for sure!
YOU ARE THE ONE who drew on the hood of our friend’s brand new SAAB with a rock you found (cha-ching, cha-ching).
YOU ARE THE ONE that ONLY wanted a State Quarter Map for Christmas when you were four (we still have it in your room and it is full of quarters)!
YOU ARE THE ONE who organized all your outfits in your drawers and were mildly (okay, not so mildly) obsessed with shoes for years and years and years (who gets Famous Footwear gift certificates when they are just a young boy)!
YOU ARE THE ONE who fell sledding and ended up in a country hospital emergency room with stitches (which I had to take out because we moved three days later)!
YOU ARE THE ONE who asked this question when you were just 5 1/2: “Mom, if Jesus was Jewish, did He believe in Himself?”
YOU ARE THE ONE who did a cannonball into our indoor tub (it was kind of a big tub; I will grant you that).
YOU ARE THE ONE who filled our house with singing. I knew you were sick when it stopped and you were better when it started up again (you still sing today)!
YOU ARE THE ONE who always had a bucket and a net in your hand, catching all the creatures in lakes, gardens, ponds, rivers, and our backyard!
YOU ARE THE ONE who was rushed to the emergency room with a tonsil abscess and needles were poked into your throat and you threw up all over the doctor! You obviously lived to tell the tale!
YOU ARE THE ONE who had every kind of lizard and reptile as a pet (from anoles to geckos to bearded dragons).
YOU ARE THE ONE who was Hot Rod Hanson in the summer musical, girls swooning around you as you belted out your notes.
YOU ARE THE ONE who almost caught our house on fire with your water gun filled with lighter fluid in one hand and the BIC grill lighter in the other.
YOU ARE THE ONE who was fascinated by your lacrosse stick, walking constantly around the house with it, and eventually figuring out how to string it yourself!
YOU ARE THE ONE who made weird faces when playing on your game system, your mouth moving in all the directions of the controller.
YOU ARE THE ONE who broke your clavicle because you were chosen to play in a lacrosse tournament with the big kids. Emergency room #3!
YOU ARE THE ONE who was Gaston in the middle school play, Beauty and the Beast, again girls swooning around you as you belted out your notes (this time right before your voice changed – Gaston never sounded so feminine – and I don’t think “every last inch of you was covered with hair”)!
YOU ARE THE ONE who played on four basketball teams in Eighth Grade (no wonder your grades slipped into an uncomfortable place for this mama)!
YOU ARE THE ONE who watched the Office non-stop for about four years (I think you are still watching it).
YOU ARE THE ONE who grew about eight inches in one year, going from one of the shorter guards on your basketball team to one of the “big men.”
YOU ARE THE ONE who was obsessed with purple and penguins and hats (with the flat brim) and game systems and legos.
YOU ARE THE ONE who had a kids’ Batman backpack all of high school (yes, even into your senior year)!
YOU ARE THE ONE who had a 1 in 100,000 people knee injury your junior year playing basketball. After surgery, nine months of recovery and two more surgeries, we are crossing our fingers it’s finally healed!
YOU ARE THE ONE who got your ears pierced at sixteen much to my chagrin (you did take care of them much to my happy surprise – and you don’t wear them any more much to my “I-don’t-care-anymore-what-you-do” attitude).
YOU ARE THE ONE who bought kitten and lamb folders for your senior school year (you never ever ever ever ever cared about what anyone thought about you).
YOU ARE THE ONE who wrapped your arms around me one day when I was afraid and said, “It’s all going to be okay, Mom” (I recall you doing that again just last week).
YOU ARE THE ONE who beat everyone at Poker all the time. Enough said.
YOU ARE THE ONE who told your basketball coach not to put you in the starting line up your Senior Year, that you wanted to be the Sixth Man coming off the bench (WHO DOES THAT?!?).
YOU ARE THE ONE who proudly donned your “Raritan Valley Community College” t-shirt on “Decision Day,” while all your friends sported their VIP universities.
YOU ARE THE ONE who broke your hand playing in a Charity game and pretended your cast was a fashion accessory. (Most of our mom/son memories have come in that “room” at the doctor waiting endlessly for the knock on the door. We have had more than enough time to solve all the world’s problems).
YOU ARE THE ONE who wore a Batman shirt under your prom tux and painted (well Sarah painted) the Batman symbol on your graduation cap, a constant reminder of the superhero that you are!
YOU ARE THE ONE who took a Gap Year before you went to college, again being your own person and not falling in line with everyone else. (It was one of the best decisions you’ve ever made and we loved having the bonus time with you.)
YOU ARE THE ONE who broke up and got back together with your girlfriend at least four or five times (we scolded you a lot about this) and she has stuck it out with you for seven whole years!
YOU ARE THE ONE who jumped off a fifty-foot cliff into the waters of the Pacific Ocean on a whim (so so so glad I found out about this after you lived through it).
YOU ARE THE ONE who built your own computer with Lego Batman holding up the graphics card.
YOU ARE THE ONE who decided to major in psychology even though you don’t like people all that much. Of course. Of course.
YOU ARE THE ONE who wants to know a million random facts about anything and everything from why non-poisonous snakes flatten their heads when they are threatened to whether or not “pronunciate” is a real word (those are just the two from this past week).
YOU ARE THE ONE who became fixated on headphones and you actually write reviews on the internet for the subculture of headphone lovers. (Your college graduation gift is to get custom headphones made for your unique ears.)
YOU ARE THE ONE who did not walk at your college graduation because ceremonies just don’t cut it for you.
YOU ARE THE ONE who I can talk to about everything spiritual, cerebral and you always have an opinion about the subject matter at hand (kind of like your mama). Our banter is my favorite.
YOU ARE THE ONE who is still pulling Batman shirts over your head some mornings (I personally think you are way cooler than Batman)!
YOU ARE THE ONE who I am so thankful to have shared the last 23 years with. There is no one else quite like you. Really. Seriously. No one.
YOU ARE THE ONE who will always march to the beat of your own drum (or play a completely different instrument).
I need you to know that I love you. I want you to know exactly what those three words mean when they are coming from my heart to yours.
I have told you that I love you more times than either of us can remember. That’s a good thing. You’ve heard it from the first day I held you in my arms and you are hearing it again today. You will hear it from me tomorrow, and next week, as long as my tongue allows. My love for you is COUNTLESS.
My love for you is the reason that sometimes I stay awake and worry. Yet, the fear that I have that my heart might break someday is quieted by the fierce love I have for you and the knowledge that it’s all worth it. You are worth it. My love for you is FEARLESS.
I loved you when you were minutes old. I loved you when you were a “NO” screaming toddler. I loved you when you were fighting with your siblings in grade school. I loved you when you were a taller-than-me teenager. I loved you when you walked away from me into your college dorm room. I love you today. I will love you all the tomorrows. Nothing will change that. My love for you is AGELESS.
It’s been a lot of work to be your mom. The lack of sleep and the amount of energy I’ve poured in have left me exhausted at times. But the life and joy and beauty you have brought me is beyond what I could have imagined. I wouldn’t trade it for the world. My love for you is TIRELESS.
I don’t care who knows how much I love you. I would shout it from the highest mountain to any who would listen. Everyone should know how wonderful and amazing you are and why you are so worth loving. My love for you is SHAMELESS.
I never knew love like this before I met you. It reaches places in me that I didn’t know existed. It’s higher than the uphill battles we’ve climbed. It’s wider than any mistake either of us make. It’s stronger than death. It’s longer than life. My love for you is DEPTHLESS.
No matter how many times I attempt to capture it in words, I am left dumb-founded. My love for you is more sacred than speech allows. My love for you is more precious than all the books that could ever be written. It’s easy to love you. My love for you is BOUNDLESS.
My love for began the first moment I found out about you and will continue until I take my last breath. You will carry it with you long after I am gone, until the moment you enter eternity yourself. We will then be reunited in perfect love on the other side. My love for you is ENDLESS.
The next time you hear me say them, even if it’s just a quick text, remember all of this. These three words come straight from the depths of my soul and I pray that they reach yours today.
“Making the decision to have a child is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.” (Elizabeth Stone)
From my heart to yours,
P.S. One of you is having a birthday today! Happy Birthday Sarah Elizabeth Meassick! On this day 27 years ago, you made me a mom! I. CAN’T. EVEN. BELIEVE. IT. You are a mom yourself now, but no matter how many birthdays or children of your own you have, you are (and always will be) MY:
“Someone is sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago.” (Warren Buffett)
Dear Mrs. Geiger (otherwise known as Grandma to my kids),
This weekend, I was flipping through my beat-up recipe book trying to figure out what to eat with Allen. I came across an old-fashioned casserole recipe that you had given me. Made with Rice-A-Roni®, cream of mushroom soup, diced chicken, corn and breadcrumbs. Usually, I am fairly health-conscious, but it didn’t matter one bit. I was determined to make it just to honor the fact that you gave it to me (and from what I remember, it was yummy).
From the first time I met you, I felt loved. The year was 1990. Me: a twenty-something, red-headed, spicy girl in a new church in the middle of a budding romance. You: a sixty-ish, white-haired grandma, with a contagious laugh (I can even hear it now) and a servant’s heart. You were pretty spicy yourself. Little did I know what was in store for the next eight years.
Right from the very beginning, you began planting seeds of kindness and goodness into me. You were unlike anyone I had ever met. I wasn’t sure why I was chosen, but I was happy about it. Within months of knowing me, you invited me (and my new love Allen) over for dinner. As we pulled up to your Cape Cod on a quiet cul-de-sac in the darkness of winter, candles flickered in the window inviting us to the feast you would set before us and the warmth of your love (and Mr. G’s) inside.
As the months and our romance progressed and I struggled to convince Allen that I was the love of his life, you called me to your home once again and said, “Let’s get on our knees and ask God about this.” Onto our knees we went beside your bed. I’m not even sure I had a choice. I found out we weren’t asking God about anything. You were telling God that He needed to make Allen see what a gift I was and that he should ask me to marry him immediately. It was crazy bold and I felt loved. How good and kind you were to me.
It was sooner than later that your bold prayer was answered and Allen asked me to marry him. You had us over for a celebration complete with an Italian dinner, those candles again flickering in the window inviting us into your home and more importantly, your heart. That evening, we spoke of our discouragement in finding a reasonably-priced rental. Immediately, you told us you would phone the widow who owned the empty home next door and ask if she would be willing to rent to us. We were not only overjoyed at your kindness, but also because our frustrating home search might be over. You called the next day.
Within a few months, just weeks before our wedding day, I moved in to 23 Edward Court, the little Cape Cod right next door to you and Mr. G, 27 Edward Court. After our return from honeymooning in the Smokey Mountains, Allen moved in with me and we started our married lives together, happy to know that you were only about 30 feet away, filled with love, goodness, grace, kindness and wisdom. What a treasure. The next several years began to unfold.
You were one of the very first people I told when I found out I was pregnant with our first child. You invited us over several evenings for dinner as I awaited my baby, juggling work, pregnancy and our new home. You gave me recipes as a new wife that I made without the same ability and patience as you. You prayed with and for me, listening to all my hopes and fears about these new chapters I was writing.
When Sarah arrived, you immediately called yourself “Grandma” and Mr. G “Poppy.” You brought the Rice-A-Roni® casserole (the above one I made this weekend) the day I came home from the hospital, providing food and love once again in a time where I was exhausted and didn’t know my right hand from my left. The seeds of kindness and goodness you sowed in my heart began to bud.
Time marched on and I had more babies. You were the truest Grandma in every sense of the word, having Sarah over for tea parties and doll-house playing, beckoning Jared into your home to push the button to make the “choo choo train” whistle, poking Josh in the belly button, reminding him that it was his “tortellini” and causing bursts of laughter for all. You viewed the dirty fingerprints covering your glass door from six little Goetz hands as marks of love.
You celebrated our birthdays, always making my favorite angel food cake in February and serving Allen a London broil on the grill in our backyards in August. Our kids expected just the right gift from you on their big days and they had no idea you were anything other than their family. The truth is you weren’t.
Our lives kept moving along in sync with each other, as we attended the same little church, lived on the same little street, and enjoyed the same little moments over and over and over. Cups of tea, your love for Bermuda and our promise to go there on our 20th anniversary (which we did), visits for missing ingredients in the dishes I was making (too many times, I am embarrassed to say), stroller walks, laughter until our bellies hurt, tools borrowed, meals eaten together, wisdom shared (this was a one-way street), and hearts connected. The seeds of your kindness and goodness bloomed in my soul.
The winter came when Allen and I felt we had outgrown our small home. We began looking. Knowing we would leave you gave us deep sadness. When we mustered up the nerve to share this with you, you had your own news. You were ready to move on to your next home as well, an adult community in beautiful Lancaster, PA. We were relieved yet very sad. As the months stretched ahead, we had garage sales and goodbye parties. We shed mutual tears and shared excited hearts. And as God would have it, our move dates were only days apart. At the end of August, 1998, we both packed up all our belongings side-by-side and headed out into the next chapters of our lives. We both said we couldn’t have done it any other way.
Of course, over the next many years, we visited you often and you came to our new home and we shared beautiful moments together. One more time, you welcomed our last baby, Rachel, with open arms and hearts. But the plain and simple truth is that it was never quite the same. The true gift of those eight years living right next door, sharing our tables and our hearts, was once-in-a-lifetime, something I will treasure forever. But as we know, kindness and goodness are the gifts that keep on giving. Those seeds that you planted in my life are growing into a beautiful tree filled with abundant harvest and hopefully shade for others, that same shade you provided for me.
Today, I am a kinder and better woman, mom and wife because of you. Allen is a kinder and better man, husband and father because of you. My children are kinder and better human beings, budding adults, spouses, friends, sons and daughters because of you. I don’t know why I was chosen for to receive this grand, beyond-my-imagination gift. I am eternally grateful.
It’s been about six years since you passed away. The last time Sarah and I sat with you in your apartment (only three weeks before you were gone), you shared your excitement about going to see Mr. G (Poppy to Sarah) and Jesus very soon. You planted more seeds of kindness and goodness even that day. You gave Sarah a special teacup from your collection, a wonderful reminder of all the tea parties you had with her when she was just a little girl. You gave me, as I looked into your eyes and hugged you fiercely one final time, the greatest gift I could ever receive, the gift of yourself.
I miss you and Mr. G very much. I can’t wait to eat that casserole today.
I am so excited about my guest this week, Sandi Piazza! You are in for a treat! Sandi is married to Gerry, and is currently on her third career as a stay-at-home homeschooling mom to Emilio (10) and Ana (8). She is passionate, strong, wise and gentle. Her heart comes alive when fighting for equality and social justice, diving into literature of all kinds, and providing the much-needed love and care for her foster dogs. Welcome, Sandi!
A few years ago, I heard someone preach that men’s brains are like waffles (compartmentalized) and women’s brains are more like spaghetti (highly intertwined). For many in the audience, this really resonated. Not for me. I have pots in my head.
As a perfectionist. I always have a lot going on AND never really learned how to outline and organize big projects, I tend to procrastinate until I must focus fully on the task at hand and get it done. To juggle several divergent tasks, I developed a system where I envision my brain as a cooktop covered with pots during a large holiday meal. Those who know me well may have heard me say, “OK. I need to get a new pot going in my head.” (In fact, that proclamation to my curious friend Esther is the origin of this post!)
When any project comes up, I add a pot on my brain’s stovetop. I carefully consider the core (main ingredient) of that task? What else needs to be added (some side elements) in order to accomplish this? How long do I have to complete (cook) this undertaking? Each item on my “to do” list gets a dedicated pot–something akin to the discrete little compartments in waffles, but oftentimes things are related and work together and it’s not quite the jumbled mess of spaghetti. Every so often, I sit down and think, “OK, POT CHECK! Let’s give things a stir.”
This process was crucial to my success as an undergraduate student. I was pursuing a degree in English Literature, which meant multiple books and essays assigned at any given moment. I was an officer in a club. I had an almost-full-time job. I was active in a church community (and most of us know what that means for good and bad). I was fortunate enough to have scholarships covering a huge chunk of my tuition, but room and board simply weren’t in the budget for the Rodriguez family. This meant LOTS of time spent in transit on the subway, commuting from the northernmost tip of Manhattan all the way down to Greenwich Village, in the days before internet, laptops, and smartphones. What was a student to do? CHECK MY POTS!
Typical POT CHECK, sitting on the subway riding home from school:
POT ONE: Paper due later this week on William Faulkner’s The Sound and the Fury.
“I loved the book, even though it took me a while to understand the first chapter, with its stream-of-consciousness descriptions and odd details like Cassie’s white underpants as she climbs a tree. WTH is that about? Interesting that the main character of the book never actually gets to speak for herself…her brothers and the family servant do all the talking. Can I emphasize this in my paper somehow? Hmm… OK, I’ll put it aside to revisit later, but it’s due soon so best not to wait too long.”
POT TWO: Paper two comparing Coriolanus and Titus Andronicus.
“Ugh. May as well be comparing liver and okra. Blaaah. That one isn’t due for a few weeks. Back burner for sure.”
POT THREE: Leading Bible study next week.
“What’s the verse again? ‘For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses…’ OK, how can I make this super-familiar verse seem fresh? There’s the whole Iran Contra-gate thing in the news…weapons of warfare… Too much of a stretch? Should I just read it and leave it hanging there, hoping everyone can apply it to their own life? Hmm… I have some time on this. Let it simmer on low.”
POT FOUR: Choir Christmas service.
“It’s coming up soon. I have the lyrics and harmonies of the songs memorized. I have the white shirt I need and I have that black skirt I can wear. I haven’t worn it in a while. I hope it fits…I might need to add some girdle-y (is that even a word? girdle-like?) underwear to make it fit better… Stir that pot when I get home. Wait…”
WEIRD TRANSITION BACK TO POT ONE:
“Underwear, again. That’s in a couple of my pots. Back to the paper. There was that thing in where Benji notices Cassie’s underwear. Weird for a brother to notice that about his sister. Wait, now that I think of it, didn’t that happen with more than one narrator? Where’s that book?”
By the time I got home from school, I had figured out that there were three different characters in The Sound and the Fury who noticed the central character’s underpants, and that the underwear reflected what they thought of her in that. The paper practically wrote itself, which was a blessing in the pre-word-processor 1980s!
Some 30 years later, my perfectionism has waned, but I still organize my thoughts and projects in this way. The pots bubbling away in my mind these days tend to be more abstract than project-based, and currently include things like:
what walking with Jesus looks like after deconstructing some toxic doctrines from my fundamentalist upbringing
having a successful marriage, almost 14 years in, without an example in my life to emulate
parenting a child—possibly two—with autism
navigating family relationships successfully and in a healthy way when members struggle with mental illness, addiction, & codependency
building and maintaining a tribe
a room decorating project
rescue dogs, old dogs, and how to keep them both healthy/calm
You get the idea. Lysa TerKeurst says, “The mind feasts on what it focuses on. What consumes my thinking will be the making or the breaking of my identity.” That rings true. This is the stuff of my life…the things that nourish me, sustain me, and keep me going.
Doing an occasional pot check helps me to realize what I know a lot about and what I need to research further. And, much as it did when I was in college, it often allows me to draw parallels and to see how something in one pot relates to another, helping me make sense out of a vexing problem and integrate the various parts of my life.
I also cook a lot more now than I did when I was younger, and something invaluable I’ve come to know is that there is one ingredient that improves every dish I cook. GARLIC! Just kidding. It’s SALT!
Salt is amazing. It has so many uses! It preserves. It melts ice. It kills weeds, and, relevant to the topic at hand, it seasons food and enhances the flavor of almost everything.
Author and activist Mariama Bâ has said that “The flavor of life is love. The salt of life is also love.” That rings so true! Much as every dish I cook improves with a bit of salt, every pot in my head is better when I add some love.
Sound like a stretch? See for yourself!
Parenting? Add love.
Marriage? Add love.
Faith? Family? Tribe? Yes, yes, yes…more love.
Re-examining my faith? Definitely needs more love.
And so on…
However, unlike salt, I have yet to see a “pot” where too much love ruined it.
Well, if you’ll excuse me, the kids are occupied for the moment, leaving me a few moments to sit and reflect. Perfect time for a pot check. No thanks on the waffles and spaghetti, but…can you please pass the salt?
A final word from the Dolly Mama. It’s been a pleasure having Sandi come and share with us. She’s exceptional. If you’d like to see some of my favorite blog posts, take a look at these (and please follow me if you like what you read and don’t want to miss another post):
There ought to be a hall of fame for mamas Creation’s most unique and precious pearl And heaven help us always to remember That the hand that rocks the cradle rules the world. Glen Campbell
To my Fellow Sweet Moms,
Each of our souls need blessing, someone willing something very good for us and asking God to grant it. As moms, we are constantly blessing those we love and live with. We give many times more than we receive. As your kids (whether they’re three or 43) enter another new “school” year, I long to speak this blessing straight into the core of your mom soul. I pray that God would fill your life and your heart with all the good things that God can give. One of my favorite words is “HOPE” (It was my WOTY in 2015) . True, authentic, God-breathed hope is the confident expectation of good in your life. This is my “HOPE” and blessing for you this year:
As you rise each morning, may you awaken refreshed with peace and hope for the new day that has been given to you (in your body, your mind and your spirit).
As you are getting ready, may your heart be excited about what gifts have been prepared by God’s hand, especially designed for you. May your time be expanded so that you are not hurried and that you are filled with joyful expectation.
If you have a little one, may they have slept peacefully through the night and be waking with a brilliant smile and a warm hug for you. May they respond with enthusiasm as you help them to dress, eat and be ready for their day ahead.
If you have school-aged children, may God speak words of encouragement to you during the morning flurry. May peaceful and cooperative spirits reign over the rush.
If your child is now a budding or grown adult, may God fill your heart with peace as you trust Him with their journeys and what they may be experiencing apart from you. May God comfort you as you wipe away the tears that come from missing them and may you experience joy as thoughts of them flood your mind.
As you walk through your day, may others speak words of kindness to you. May you also have wisdom to know exactly what God has for you as you pursue the things you love, whether for work or pleasure. May your labor bring much reward to you no matter what you endeavor.
May you and those you love have safety throughout the day. May each of you be protected from disease and harm. May you find yourself in a constant place of contentment and peace, physically, mentally and spiritually.
May you be filled with laughter and joy as you unpack the special gifts God has designed just for you. May you have times of seriousness and depth as well that speak to your inner being. May your friendships blossom, your body flourish, your mind be sharpened and your heart be filled with love.
May your pre-dinner time be filled with peace and joy, kindness and motivation. May those you live with work diligently to fulfill their responsibilities and be a help to you the best way they can. May there be times of play and refreshment as well that nourish and strengthen your soul.
Depending on what your evening’s activities bring you (family, a good meal, continued work, exercise, quiet, or friendship), may those who come in contact with you give you only words of comfort, understanding and support. May the mouths of others be shut if their words are critical and unkind. May your exercise (whether physical, emotional, relational or spiritual) be fruitful and bring life to you. May your loved ones bring you blessing and life.
When you have a break from the daily grind of work (weekends, vacation, Sabbath, etc.), may your time be filled with restoration of your mind, your spirit and your body. May you have understanding of what to fill your time with and when to rest, when to be with others and when to be alone.
As you wrap up your day, may your mind turn to thoughts of thanksgiving for the gifts that were so freely given to you that day by God’s hand. May all thoughts of despair and discouragement be banished from your mind, heart and soul and may they be turned to Christ, who has sustained and provided for you during this past day.
May your night be filled with dreams that bring you joy, recreation, laughter, hope, love, peace, kindness, encouragement, restfulness and even creativity. May God grant you the full and daily restoration that your body, mind, heart and soul needs during this time. May your whole being respond with healing and wholeness. May God richly bless you as you sleep!
Throughout all of your days, may you be able to see, feel and receive the love and grace that God has for you in abundance. And finally, “May the God of HOPE fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with HOPE by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 15:13)
Sweet Fellow Mom, we are on this journey together, one that is filled with the beautiful and messy, the light-hearted and complicated, the bitter and sweet! We will keep trusting and moving ahead on this journey together!
Meet Susan Bernstein! She is a wife to Eddie (married over 20 years), mom to three growing, young men (Brandon, Blake and Jordan) and a kind friend. Susan is a dog-lover, a very organized stay-at-home mom (she jokes that she spends half her life at the grocery store), an amateur photographer and an aspiring writer! Susan is loving, smart and brave. THIS WILL BE A HUGE TREAT FOR YOU PARENTS OUT THERE (no matter what your age and stage)! I hope you enjoy!
“The greatest gifts you can give your children are the roots of responsibility and the wings of independence.” (Denis Waitley)
I would suspect most people don’t cry when looking through a Bed, Bath & Beyond catalogue. Last night however, I found myself doing just that. As I studied the various organizational and space-saving items they sell to help one fit their belongings into a 14 x 14 foot dorm room, the tears just started flowing. I couldn’t believe that in one short month, I’d be packing my oldest son up for college. My mothering mind wondered if he’d have everything he needed, but deep down I wasn’t too worried about shower caddies or desk lamps. My concern was more for friends, support, and wisdom…things they didn’t sell in that catalogue.
My husband noticed my tears and came over to hug me.
“You ok?” he asked me for probably the millionth time this year.
“Yeah.” I exhaled and sighed.
“It’s not that I’m upset about him leaving,” a fresh sob forming in my throat, “It’s just that he’s never coming back.” And the floodgates erupted once more.
It hits me at odd times that our family of five will never again permanently reside under the same roof. I beamed proudly during his graduation ceremony without shedding a tear. However, I had to pull myself together in the aisle of the Hallmark store as I shopped for a card and gift just days prior. I choked back the tears as I chose Dr. Seuss’ Oh The Places You’ll Go, realizing he was about to begin a new phase of life, and it wouldn’t include us.
I knew in my heart the day would come. I mean, isn’t this what we plan for as parents all along? None of us have children and secretly hope that they’ll live with us when they are 40, right? The fact that they leave means we actually did something right as a parent! We raised a child strong and independent enough to survive on his own! Isn’t that the whole point of this parenting thing? We spent untold hours teaching them the value of hard work, integrity, and the need for sunblock. We had heart-to-hearts about taking the high road when betrayed by friends. We battled fears, real and imagined, late into the night, and steadied their shaky steps when they entered the unknown territory of a new school, team, or social circle. All the pep talks, time outs, chore charts, and consequences have paved the way to this moment. Leaving might actually be the Super Bowl event of parenthood, a time to fold our arms and smugly proclaim, “I rocked this parenting thing out of the park!”
Not exactly. Yes, he’s a capable, intelligent and (somewhat) responsible young man. He drives and makes decisions and can even vote or join the army if he wants to. But is he ready? I remember asking the same question when I left him at preschool a blink of an eye ago. He cried and cried for me, and I was sure I was doing him irreparable harm by leaving. It’s funny, because my heart hurts in the same way now. Except he isn’t crying anymore. He’s on Facebook meeting incoming classmates and looking for a roommate. So, he probably is ready. But am I?
Parenting seems to be the most selfless profession out there. After you’ve done all you can to love, nurture and raise this tiny little person, you need to let them go. As a child, my son believed everything I told him. Now, he forms his own opinions, and he is influenced by a myriad of voices over which I have no control. Our children aren’t mini-clones or younger versions of ourselves. They actually have their own unique identity. They will think and believe and do what they decide, and we are now on the sidelines, watching. We silently cheer them on and pray constantly that they will have victory. We are most definitely now on the bleachers watching their game of life, rather than next to them in the huddle.
As I prepare to release my son into the world, I will shop for all the things he needs for his new “home.” I will buy fluffy towels and warm blankets, plenty of Command hooks and microwave popcorn. He will leave packed up with all the essentials, including 18 years worth of unconditional love. I will watch with wonder, excitement, and a fair amount of sadness, as he leaves us behind and begins his life. He has a story to write, and he will write it his own way, on his own terms. I will always be a part of that story, but just one part, the one loving him from afar and praying that God protect him and put good, loving people in his life. And I suspect, for a few years at least, I’ll be the one helping to pack and organize him at Bed Bath and Beyond.
How great was that?! I just want to thank Susan for sharing her heart with each of us! If you are interested in reading other parenting blog posts by me, the Dolly Mama, click on the links below:
“Have a heart soft enough to give love and mercy, but wise enough to know boundaries.” (Kayil Crow)
It has started: Our daughter’s battle whether or not to put her four-month old down (cry it out) or pick him up when he is fussy. Believe me, both have been tried. (Don’t let the pics of the happy baby fool you.) The truth is holding him tends to calm him. He sleeps better. He stops crying. He is basically happier.
It continues: Our daily battle about how much to help our adult children (pick them up when they are “fussy”) or let them figure things out on their own (many times painful and uncomfortable). Believe me, both have been tried. For decades. The truth is helping them tends to calm them. They sleep better. They stop “fussing.” They are basically happier.
It never stops: My aging parent’s battle about how much to help their youngest son with the care of his children while my mom goes through radiation treatment during the next several weeks. This is a big one: he lost his wife about a year ago and the situation is complicated. They are 84. He is 56. It never ends. The truth is helping him calms the situation. Everyone sleeps better. The “fussing” is abated. He is basically happier.
If you are a parent, you can completely relate, no matter how old your child is. 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. I’m sure you can add your own. 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?
I am becoming keenly aware of how daily of a battle this is, no matter how old the parent or child is. I am also highly in tune right now with how many opinions everyone has about this and how strong those opinions are. I also realize how often I go to others to ask this very basic question: what should I do in “X” situation with “such-and-such” child? Do I pick them up or put them down?
For many years, I went back and forth, always unsure if what I was doing in any given situation was right. I felt trapped. If I “picked them up,” I heard the voices that shouted, “You are doing too much. Your boundaries are too lax. They need to learn for themselves. This is unhealthy. This is bad.” If I didn’t help, I heard opposing 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. And if the truth is known, I still struggle with this and it is real and it is still almost every day.
Today, I share with you my “half-thoughts” on the subject. A “half-thought” is something I am still in process about and haven’t completely “landed” anywhere quite yet, but still want to share. I hope these bring you some freedom for the “back-and-forth,” trapped feeling you may find yourself in today:
Even though the questions are easy, the situations are complicated. No two are the same and rarely is there a quick answer or fix. Rest in that.
This dilemma is part of being a parent, period. There’s no getting out of it.
Other parents are in the same boat. We all need each other, not to judge and give solutions, but to listen and give grace.
Don’t ask yourself 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.
Ask yourself these questions instead: What do I really need? Why do I want to help? What do they really need? Take the long-view and dig a little deeper.
Change your mind if you need to. Take the time to re-evaluate and get counsel from others. There is great freedom here.
Show yourself boatloads of grace no matter what you decide. Remind yourself that God loves both of you and He can come in and provide all that’s lacking no matter what decision is made in the moment.
I leave you with my biggest one for this past six months because many days I just don’t know what to do. This verse comes up every single day on my reminders. I pray it every morning:
If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives GENEROUSLY and FREELY to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. (James 1:5)
I don’t think it ever ends. I am growing and being stretched and learning to love in a healthy, hope-filled, very complicated kind of way. I kind of like it.