Far Beyond My Understanding

Warning: This post is being written with scattered thoughts and worn emotions….

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Photo by Glenn Carstens-Peters on Unsplash

My fourteen-year-old is attending a funeral right now: the funeral of a sixteen-year-old classmate. I cannot even begin to imagine the nightmare that child’s mother lives in right now. She is living out the scene that causes me to lose sleep at night.

Sometime after giving birth to my fourth child, panic set in. I came to the realization that I had four children. I had quadrupled my chances of one day losing a child. And this is where I live. In a constant state of insanity awaiting the pending devastation that might not ever come.

Is anybody with me on this? 

That question is rhetorical. I already know the answer. I saw it in the eyes of every mother standing in line to check their child out of class for a funeral today. I heard it from the lips of a friend who is right now waiting on test results for her thirteen-year-old who has already beat the C-word once. And I remember that answer and the anger it evoked in me as the child of an over-protective mother hell-bent on keeping me alive. Potential loss grips the heart of a mother.

I have no words of comfort because I seek comfort myself. I want assurance that all of my children will outlive me. But I’ll never get it. It isn’t promised to me.

I want so much to let that go. To stop seeking to control things I will never have control over. My need to be in charge only shows my insecurities and lack of trust in the God who created all things. The God who made my children and loves them so far beyond my understanding of the word.

So today, my heart goes out to the mother of Molly Jones. I don’t know her, but my heart aches for her. I pray that through the turmoil of this life, she finds peace in eternal things.

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Mommy guilt…..meet grace.

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Photo by Sunset Girl on Unsplash

I accepted Christ when I was 15. At that time, I did not know what that meant for my life. I changed my friends and learned how to read God’s Word. I attended church and involved myself in ministries that gave me the opportunity to serve. I tried my best to earn my salvation and I continued this for many years.

It wasn’t until just a few years ago that I understood God’s grace. To any outsider, it would have appeared that I was at a peak in my life. I had an amazing and supportive husband, was enjoying a peaceful life in the mountains of Northwest Georgia, had many Christ-loving, spirit-led friends and had just given birth to my fourth child. But in the midst of all of that outward perfection came a battle that I had fought for years. I struggled with my worth as a person; as a wife, mother, friend, Christian. It was a battle that I could no longer fight.

In Deuteronomy chapter one, Israel refused to enter into the Promised Land. God had led His people out of bondage and despair and had given them a place to rest and restore.  They were scared and lacked faith. Verse 28 says that they cried out “The people are greater and taller than we.”

This was my cry. I couldn’t compare to the mothers who kept perfect houses and led Scout meetings. I wasn’t like the wives that I knew, the ones that packed lunches for their hubbies and never spoke an angry word. My life was filled with so many spiritual giants that I didn’t think God would even be able to see me standing behind them trying to earn His love by singing in the choir and teaching a Sunday school class. I couldn’t measure up and claim my promised land because I wasn’t good enough. I couldn’t fight that battle.

Verse 30 and 31 says, 30 The LORD your God which goeth before you, he shall fight for you, according to all that he did for you in Egypt before your eyes; 31 And in the wilderness, where thou hast seen how that the LORD thy God bare thee, as a man doth bear his son, in all the way that ye went, until ye came into this place.

You see sisters, my battle was not with other Christians. It wasn’t against my friends or other moms. My battle was against my own doubts and insecurities. And my God says He will fight. He loves His children and He will fight their battles and when you think that you can’t go any further, God will scoop you up into His loving arms and He will carry you. That, my friend, is grace.

***From my new devotional, Made To Move, available on Amazon.

When Sons Serve

Screenshot_2017-08-18-09-23-52-1.pngI’ve become quite a worrier. Mostly worrying about my children.

Have they had lunch?

Have they done their homework?

Where are they in life?

Are they happy?

Add to the mix a granddaughter and watch my worry wrinkles multiply by the second. But I have learned these things are trivial. This morning a very sweet friend prepares to send her son off to serve the United States as a Marine. I cannot imagine the level of anguish she must feel. So today, in honor of her, I release some of my worries and focus those efforts on letting her know how much I love her.

I am praying for you, my sister.

Daddy God,

I come to you today, interceding for a dear friend who I am sure is struggling to find the right words to pray. Lord I pray peace over her as she stretches to a level of bravery that most of us will never know. And God I pray for our sweet Soldier, that you will wrap him in your arms of protection, give him the strength and courage that he needs, and may he always feel your presence.

Amen.

Journaling Through Motherhood

Craft Journal

My journal entry from January 31, 1999

All packed up and ready to leave the hospital, the nurse stops me at the door, arms outstretched, handing me my new baby. I have to take it home???

Until this moment, through months of pregnancy, setting up a nursery, and buying lots and lots of baby supplies, it hadn’t dawned on me what was about to happen. Not only would I take this baby home with me that day, I would also be carrying home all the emotions that come along when the life and well-being of another human falls on your shoulders. You are faced with decisions about things you hadn’t really thought important until that moment. Decisions about health, nutrition, which pediatrician you should use, what schools are the best, what sports are the safest, and which neighborhood you should live in. And moms have a terrible habit of looking to others to set the standard of what is the norm. In our social-media driven society, it is hard to watch other moms posting their best mommy-moments and not feel like you come up a little short.

I want to step up to say, I am in the same boat as you. Anything you’ve done, anywhere you’ve fallen short, I can honestly say “me too!” I’ve fed my kids Doritos straight out of the bag and called it dinner. I’ve had to loan my son a pair of my fuzzy socks because I was behind on laundry. We have skipped bathtime because we spent time in the pool so the kids are probably clean enough. I’ve sent my kids to bed early because I have a bag of mini donuts hidden in the back of the pantry that I would like to enjoy alone.

We all have those moments we would rather others not know anything about. And what do we do? We clean up those messes and take a photoshopped selfie with our kids so that everyone else thinks we are as perfect as they want us to think they are. It’s a vicious cycle mommas. We’ve got to stop the comparing and let go of the guilt. No mommy is a perfect mommy.

Several years ago I found myself in a mommy-pit. After months of complete bedrest, I had just given birth to our fourth child. She was a preemie, spent time in the NICU, and went home on a heart monitor. She required much attention and took up a lot of my time. Meanwhile, I had three other little ones who were homeschooled and needing me to focus. Aside from all the baby care, I spent my mornings teaching, my afternoons planning lessons, and my nights crying to my husband because I felt like each day was a failure. I was sure that my children would one day be in a therapy session crying their way through a suppressed memory about how I had failed to cut the crust off of their peanut butter sandwich. The final straw came when I let my middle daughter’s birthday slip up on me, leaving me totally unprepared for her big day. I found myself hyperventilating on the party aisle of a nearby dollar store trying to put together a party setup from the mismatched items they had available. We lived too far from town and I had too little time to put together anything great so with a little desperation and a lot of shame, I called all of our closest friends and begged them to come over for a party that should have been planned months earlier. I baked a half-burnt cake and smeared on some pink icing. With an unsteady hand, I did my best to write Happy Birthday Princess on the top and used small toys lying around the house for cake toppers. We did have balloons but couldn’t find streamers so we used household items like tin foil and toilet paper to make the house look festive. A few folks showed up, giftless because of the last minute invite, but instead sympathetically handed her some cash. We played some games that didn’t require preparation and after a round of the birthday song, we allowed our guests to leave. It was officially the worst birthday party ever given and that meant I was the worst mommy to ever exist. I sat in our living room that night and I cried. I just knew that I had scarred my child for life and that she would one day leave my home, never looking back. I walked the hall to her bedroom to tell her I was sorry for being such a terrible mother when I heard her talking to her sister. “Today was the best day ever. Maybe you can have a party like mine when it’s your birthday.”

The lesson to take away from this is simple. We might not have it all together but our kids don’t know that. They think that the moon hangs in the sky because we put it there. And that is exactly what we do. We hang their moon. We make them proud. We love them like there’s no tomorrow and they give us their utmost loyalty and refuse to let a negative thought about us cross their minds. They put us on a pedestal but being a mommy is hard work and we deserve that pedestal. So stand tall momma, knowing that your circumstances are different from any other mother’s and you only have to do your best. Whether you are the mom of girls or the mom of boys, the mom of a special needs child or an empty nest mom, you are the most important person in your child’s life. You might not have all the laundry done and only clean in the main parts of the house on a regular basis but you spend time with your babies and they think you’re great.

Now, wipe the powdered sugar off your chin and turn your shirt right side out cause you’ve got a moon to hang.  

My journal entry from April 27, 2016

My heart is full as I watch my four beautiful children walk side-by-side through life. I have so much more than I deserve. I pray for joy in the midst of trials because no matter what I am going through, I always have my kids to look forward to.

Today….I struggle.

Vacancy (1)

Today my household shrinks by two as Alana and Charli are moving out. I’ve known it was coming since she paid an apartment deposit almost two weeks ago but time certainly hasn’t made this day any easier. I keep trying to remind myself that this is normal- this is how it is supposed to be.

Life changes. Things are different. Children move out. I can find positive in this somewhere….

We now have an extra bedroom. I can buy a smaller car. On family movie nights, we can all fit on the couches. Good things, right? No, because when I became a mom, four times, I did so knowing that I wanted my life full, my cup running over, absolute and total chaotic goodness. There will be a void there, no matter how positively I look at it.

My family is my life. And until lately, I have been in total control of that sweet, little family. Everytime I call for a family trip- they are all there. When I want to spend the evening playing boardgames- we are all in. Holidays are done my way and all of my traditions revolve around the participation of a mommy, daddy, and all four children. Now my firstborn will have her own family, her own trips, her own traditions. I will be left with a hard life lesson about not being in control.

So would I change it if I could? No. Because she is happy.

I will sit back and admire her as she charges into life at full speed. I will support her as she makes a household of her own. I will spend my days loving on my other babies while they are still at home. I will learn to live content with where God has me for this season.

And…..I will stop by for surprise visits with my baby and grandbaby all-too-often until I have worn out my welcome.

I am mom…

Never Stop Writing

Gardening, boating, home-steading, cute animals, couponing, soap-making, herbal remedies, office pranks, creative writing, popular books, beach vacationing, historic landmarks, fanny-pack fashion, celebrity gossip, beanie-baby collections…. these are all topics I could have chosen to blog about. But did I? Nope! I decided to blog about the most difficult thing I could- my life.

This is a hard blog….for several reasons.

  1. This is my life- and anyone who knows me well knows that I typically am not interested in sharing my life.
  2. I tend to be a people pleaser so I write with my individual readers in mind instead of sharing my true feelings.
  3. This situation is hard- and it only seems to be getting harder.

But I keep writing. Albeit, I am not as consistent as I would like to be but some weeks, I can’t get a sentence out. Other times, I feel like there has to be someone out there that struggles like I do. That’s my audience- the one who needs to know that she is not alone.

So here I am. Knee-deep in this thing and feeling like (once again) this boat I am on is steering itself and doesn’t care if I am enjoying the ride. Five months ago, I was loved. Welcomed. Involved. Needed. Today, so much has changed and I am not sure why. My opinions are no longer needed, my thoughts no longer wanted, my help no longer- – -helpful. I suppose it is all part of the process but it doesn’t make it any easier. Humans have an inate need to feel needed. And not just when a babysitter is required….in all things.

I can’t figure out why a friend can give advice about life and it’s fine. I give the same advice and I am intruding. I guess that is a good thing and it should make me proud. For the first time in our relationship, I am not a friend- I am a mom.

Things To Come

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My mom visited recently. She came up from sun-shiny Florida to care for me while I recovered from surgery….or at least that was the excuse she used to spend time with her new great grand-baby. Who can blame her?

I decided to take full advantage of this opportunity. You see, I’m pretty new at this grandma thing….she’s been doing it for 18 years. I figured this was a great way to look 18 years into my future.

Day 1: Picked mom up from the airport. Stopped for dinner on the way home. At the end of the meal, mom requested a sweet tea to-go. She drank the to-go sweet tea, then filled up the to-go cup with her regular glass. Why didn’t she just drink from the regular glass in the first place?

Day 2: While having dinner, mom mentioned that she had a toothache on the right side of her mouth. She then proceeded to explain that because of said toothache, she gets full faster on her left side. What???

Day 3: I had to move my car manual out of the glove box. When my husband asked me why it wasn’t in the car, I had to explain that mom needed more room for napkins and straws she had collected from restaurants.

Day 4: Mom spooks easy. Today she was swinging her feet as they dangled over the side of the bed. Completely unaware that there was a newspaper on the floor under her, she would hear the crinkling noise it made when her foot hit it, stop, and ask, “Did you hear that? Wait, it stopped.” This went on for several minutes.

Day 5: These words ACTUALLY came out of my mother’s mouth: “I love the color red. I love red cars, and red fingernails, and red hair. Oh, and I love the blood of Jesus….”

Day 6: I’ve decided to stop studying mom. It’s a little frightening and I fear some of it might rub off on me. I choose instead to enjoy each and everyday with her, and all of her quirks, and try to never take her for granted.