Thursday, September 10, 2015

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Parenting IS Hard

So, I skipped church today.  I sit here writing this, fully dressed for church.  Hair done, make-up(I don't really wear a lot but what little I do wear is there.), ready for a day with my peeps.  But, I couldn't do it.  I fought with my youngest on the way in. We had unkind words...mostly mine. I brought us home and I just.could.not.  I literally could. not. even.  My oldest took herself and her sisters.  Erik is at another church.  I feel overwhelmed.

My cup overfloweth with blessings. And stress.  My kids are growing up and I am no longer in control in any way. When your kids are young, there is this illusion that you are in control.  You determine leave times. destinations, wardrobes, bedtimes and a whole other host of things that make your existence one that is of your own creation and overall, very pleasant.  Kids mostly do what they are told and life is pretty sweet.

Fast forward to the present...I am not in control.  AND, it kind of feels like no one else is either.  I know that ultimately, God is in control.  BUT, the DEVIL is in the details.  I know he seeks to devour and destroy.  I know my family is not an exception.  I know he is happy I stayed home today.  There are just times when I can't do it.  When 'one more thing' is one thing too many.

So, I sit here this morning.  Putting it into words how this 'kids growing up' thing is hard.  I have loved being a mother.  I have poured my heart and soul into my kids.  I have tried to live like I know God wants me to.  I have been talking to them about the really important stuff: sex, drugs, alcohol, relationships, spirituality, etc-all of their lives.  There wasn't THE TALK, there was always just open dialogue.  This is still true.  I've tried to be an example.  I've tried to break the chain of generational sins.  I've tried to do the very best that I know how.

As I write this, all I can think is: Was it enough?  Was I too busy? Was I so focused on giving my kids what I didn't get that I missed giving them what THEY really needed?  Have I damaged them? Am I a good mom?  Will my children rise up and call me blessed?  God gives me new mercies every morning...but do my children?  Do I give them new mercies?  Have I smothered them?  Have I given them room to move, grow and become who God needs them to be?

The ultimate question: Have I been a good mom to them?  I assume it haunts every mother, it haunts me.  I obsess on it daily.  It pummels me from too many directions.  I secretly need validation from everyone, anyone, Dr. Phil.  It is surely a tool of the devil.  He loves it when I question things.  He loves my fear and pounces on my weaknesses.  He loves pride almost as much as humiliation.  He firmly plants himself in both.

My conclusions?  I am not good enough.  I will never be enough.  I can't save my children.  That is what Jesus died to be. (Hat tip Sara Matheny...this TRUTH I cling to!) I am perfectly flawed.  The kind of flawed that, no doubt, has done some damage to my kids.  Hopefully, some counseling, growing up and introspection will get them over it.  However, I have done the very best I could.  Like my mother before me did the best she could.  One day, if they decide to, my kids will also do the best they can with their own kids.  We are not striving for perfection.  We are striving for loving, feeling, compassionate offspring that try to find their own way in their own way. Erik and I were the very best parents we knew how to be.  We took our personal examples, examples around us and we muddled through.  Muddled.  It's the best word.  We didn't know exactly what to do and we still don't.  BUT, we LOVE our kids.  We love them so much that it hurts to the bone.  We are brought to tears by their successes and failures, by our successes and failures.  We are brought to tears by their possible futures...the good and bad things we contrive in our heads.  We are brought to tears by the thought that they could move on and be okay without us.  We are brought to tears by the thought that they could rely on us too much and not be independent.  We are brought to tears by the fact that they...ARE GROWING UP.

It all seems a little too much.  Too fast, too soon, too emotional, too scary, too real, too happy, too exciting...really too much.

And so this Father's Day, I sit in my quiet house and TRUST.  I trust that God has a plan for each one of the people in my family. I TRUST that it might not always look like I want it to and that won't make it bad.  I TRUST that God will prepare me, has in fact, already prepared me for whatever our future holds.  I am blessed to be part of the journey of the four people I share space with in this home.  Please, God, help me to remember it is a blessing.  AND, I am not in control.  GOD IS IN CONTROL, not me.  My job is to LOVE MYSELF and LOVE OTHERS.

Having children has changed me so much for the better.  I can't even imagine life without them.  God gives such wonderful gifts that make us better people.  Thank you, God, for the blessing of being called Mom by Erika, Kayla and Lilly.  Thank you, God, for giving me Erik to share life and this wild roller coaster ride of parenting with.  Life is good, even when it is hard and I feel overwhelmed by everything.

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can and wisdom to know the difference.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Love is...

1 Corinthians 13:4-7

New International Version (NIV)
4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love is patient: eats last, gives others the 'good one', bites her tongue and makes an appropriate response not the one that pops into her head, allows other people to make their own mistakes even when she desperately wants to give advice, allows someone in front of her in traffic, doesn't make a fuss when someone runs late.

Love is kind: pays a compliment to a total stranger because her hair DOES look good, gives a friend some money when she loses her job, goes to weddings and funerals if at all possible because they matter, says thank you, sends cards for no reason, gives gifts-sometimes anonymously, makes food for people, notices good behavior of children and tells the parent, overlooks bad behavior of other people's children unless it is a 'biggie' and even then treads lightly onto that slippery slope, loves children utterly and completely because someday they will be grown-ups.

It does not envy:  everyone has blessings and curses-I trust in a God that knows more what we need than we do.

It does not boast: lives life in such a way that others think well of her and compliment her-saying it herself will always sound empty and never fulfills.

It is not proud: we are all sinners in need of a savior...not a lot to be proud of.

It does not dishonor others:  If her success comes as a result of someone else losing theirs-it isn't really success, walks away from gossip-gossip is any words that allow someone else to be not thought well of, fully realizes that words and actions have much power and uses them for good, overlooks the faults of others because she realizes she is not without faults.

It is not self-seeking: seeks only Godly glory, isn't trying to do anything more than mimic Christ.

It is not easily angered:
It keeps no record of wrongs:
 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth:  
 It always protects:
Love always trusts:
Love always hopes:
Love always perseveres.

All you need is love is not an oversimplification.  Love is not simple.  It is so hard, we need God to even be able to do it.  Love is supernatural.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Mother's Day

My first Mother's Day without my mom is now completed.  It was a hard day.  Everything made me think of her.  As I take comfort in the things in my home that used to be hers, it is a daily reminder that she is gone.  The loss is felt deep within my soul but I would not wish her back here for anything.  While I know that this was a difficult day for all she left behind, I know that she had the best Mother's Day ever.  I know that she was with her mother, the mother she had not seen since she was 8 years old.  I know that she is happy in the arms of God.

Lots of people question the existence of God.  I have certainly questioned it in my life.  I am thankful that my heart was open enough to see the very real and personal evidences that allow me to be comforted forever by a personal knowledge of God.  On this earth, I am but a vapor.  I will live my life and this physical body will one day be snuffed out.  My soul and the very essence of who I am, though, will live throughout eternity.  I will spend Mother's Day with my mom again.  AND, we won't struggle to get along or fight or bicker.  We will both be healed of our physical afflictions and the broken places of our hearts and we will commune with God.

That 'Old' Feeling

I have been substituting for almost 2 full school years. Yes, I am still loving it in a way that I did not expect. I have made friends with most all of the teachers and I really enjoy having such a wide variety of personality types as co-workers.  But, surprisingly, my most favorite part is the teenagers.  I love them.  They are so much fun to tease.  I pretended I was mean and intimidating for a while, so now I have some street cred. For realz, y'all.

This brings me to a story of why I feel old.  The other day, while in the library, a student came in that was prepping for a mock election.  She had on a power suit.  I told her she was cutting it in a 'man's world'.  I then told her she should carry a  Bobbitt knife to complete the look.  They all sort of smiled and chuckled. However, due to my astute knowledge of teenagers, I could tell that they had no clue what I was talking about.  I said, "Oh my, you kids don't even know what I'm talking about, do you?"  They confessed that they indeed were supplying me with sympathy laughter.  I told them they could not encounter anyone my age that would not know exactly what that meant and all the details to go with it.  Then they googled it.  Then they all died a little that something so awful had happened.

This little incident and my lost references to 'Kramer' of Seinfeld fame remind me that while I may feel hip and young in my brain, I am indeed OLD.  The generation gap, it is REAL.  It is also the widest gap ever known. 

Friday, January 10, 2014


My mom's preacher read this for me at her service.  I needed to record it here.

Today, my mother is an angel.  She'd be the first to tell you she wasn't always.  But in many ways, she was.  She was one of the most hospitable people I've ever known.  She loved feeding people and sharing the table with loved ones.  Most of our happiest memories involve a huge meal followed by laughter through tears.  Mom was a giver-she never had a possession that she was attached to.  She knew life was all about people and relationships.  Her gift of hospitality was frequently exercised.  Through the years, she received much generosity and also freely gave it.

In every family, there is much that goes unsaid.  In our family, we are much more likely to have things that should have been left unsaid.  Thankfully, love prevails over our foolish words.  We love each other deeply despite our differences.  We don't wait for apologies to love or forgive.  We understand that we are not perfect...even though we all really hate admitting it.

Mom was a working mom with four daughters.  We are her biggest fans and her toughest critics.

I am thankful today that our family isn't perfect.  We did put the 'fun' in dysfunction.  God shines brightly through our broken places.  We rejoice in the fact that our broken mom is whole.  God is faithful to heal and restore.

Today, my mom is a perfect and unblemished angel in the arms of God.  Thank you Jesus!

Saturday, September 14, 2013

25 Cents

I don't remember how old I was, but it was young enough that a quarter was a lot of money to me.  I'm not sure how many times I had seen it before, but on this day, I saw it differently. In many ways, it was like I saw it for the first time.   My Ma was walking down her driveway with her walker to get her mail and the paper.  I was sitting on my school bus.  It was taking her forever.  She made so little progress.  As we traveled down the hill and up a slighter one to her driveway, her progress could be measured in mere inches.  To be sure, this was a daily chore for my grandmother.  I don't know if she looked forward to it or dreaded it.  Maybe she enjoyed the walk on spring-like days when the sunshine is warm and the breeze is cool.  Perhaps dread washed over her on the days when the Kentucky summer heat embraces you like a wool blanket and you can scarcely breathe.  Or maybe the days when the bitter cold cuts right through to the bone were most difficult to bear.  All I really knew as a youngster was that it was a ridiculous chore for her.  The way my young mind calculated it, something that might take her half an hour could be done by me in a matter of minutes.  My own driveway was just up the hill from hers.  As the doors of the bus opened, I jumped out, ran and threw my stuff in the house and took off for Ma's.  I ran to Ma's house and got there in time to hold the door open for her as she made her way back into the house.

"Ma, from now on, I am gonna get off the bus and bring your mail and paper to you." I had already plotted out that this was the way it was gonna be.

"Well, if you want to, that'll be okay with me." Her voice was ripe with old age and shook a little.

I looked around a bit for other things I could do while I was already there.  My Pa had helped with those sorts of things when he was still up and about but that all changed when he became bedridden due to 'hardening of the arteries'.  I'm still not sure where that term came from or exactly what it meant but it changed all of our lives forevermore. 

She said it would be perfectly fine for me to do that.  I smiled as I swept all the floors, washed up some dishes and looked for anything else that might need to be done.  When I had done all there was to be done, she told me I could get a quarter from the giant coffee can that was filled with quarters on the chest by the living room entrance where she sat.  This was a surprise.  I was elated.  I took a shiny quarter out and then marveled at how many quarters there were.  It was almost full to the very top and all of them were quarters.  I had not anticipated getting paid for my work, but I was so very happy.  I hugged Ma and Pa good-bye and hoped with all of my heart that this gig I had volunteered myself for might earn me a quarter from time to time.  Of course, I would have done it for nothing, but earning a quarter was even better.

I studied the quarter in my hand as I walked home.  Then I put it in my pocket.  I liked the feel of it there as I walked home.  It was a treasure and I knew it.  Money did not come my way very often but I knew that twenty-five cents would buy a lot of candy at Pedro's, the corner grocery a LONG walk from my house.  The grocery was really named Farmer's Supply but everyone just called it Pedro's, at least everyone I knew did.  On that day, so many moons ago, I learned to work.  I also learned that if you work hard and are happy to be doing it, people will usually pay you.  To a poor kid in the middle of the country without a lot of work options, it was a good lesson.

Each day during the school year, I would get off the bus, collect the mail and paper, do some light housekeeping and say my goodbyes.  Ma never failed to tell me to get a quarter out of the can on my way out.  I never failed to thank her and be thrilled beyond words to collect my pay.  I would love to tell you that I took all those quarters and saved them up for something big, but I blew every red cent on candy and cokes as often as I could get to that store.  I doubt my very frugal grandparents would have approved.  I had no concept of saving money but I knew full well the joys of candy.  A coke and a candy bar are still my favorite treats.  I'm pretty fond of quarters as well.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013


My kids are all at camp this week.  I do miss them but I have needed this break for a long time.  I don't think I even considered how overextended I am. I was too busy to notice!! Things are going to be adjusted, and in fact, have already undergone adjustments.  My kids are growing up, life is in its busiest phase and I HAVE to be PRESENT during this time.  Really present-calm and loving.  Not a squawking mess of stress.

I was sort of anxious about how much one on one time hubby and I would have while they are gone.  I was so wrong.  We are realizing just how much we enjoy each other.  We have done fun stuff and almost one full day of nothing.  It has been fabulous.

Life is good, even when it isn't.  Every day this side of the dirt should be celebrated and savored.  Especially the painful ones.  Positive changes are almost always born out of painful incidents and relationships.  Good times would be expected and unappreciated without the peppering of heartaches and losses.  I choose happiness.