Thursday, September 24, 2015

3 Secrets For Powerful Parenting

She sat in her regular afternoon homework spot, right across the island from me. I chopped onions for supper while she chewed on her favorite snack; cheddar cheese. Her eyes bounced from floor to ceiling, ceiling back to the floor. "Sweet girl, do you have a question for me?" I inquired. Her tender brown eyes peered up at mine and she sheepishly asked, "Mama, what's rape?" My heart sunk. The hands on the calendar have not even turned double digits for her. She asked this question with masked boldness and waited patiently as I formed the words on my tongue to answer her.

I laid down my knife, rinsed my potent onion hands and slowly drew near to her side. I lowered my posture so she and I could see eye to eye. With tears streaming down my face, I began to explain in an age appropriate way the horror of rape.

No one shares these kinds of stories at baby showers. Very few parenting books are willing to stray from mind-numbing topics like breast-feeding, bottle feeding, home safety devices and vaccinations.

In our short 12 years of parenting, it has become paralyzingly, obvious that our job is SO.MUCH.MORE than any book could describe.

Here are 3 secrets we have returned to over and over again as we try to raise these babies, entirely leaning on grace upon grace.

1. Find them, and be intentional!
Each of our children is a gift desperately waiting to be opened by us! No faux substitution will satisfy. The base line of ALL of our stories is the desire to know and be known. One of our child's deepest needs is to be known by Mom and Dad. Much of our knowing has been rooted in our watching. Hours upon hours of taking mental notes on how our children respond/react in different situations and settings. These are the quiet clues to the tilt of your child's heart. Be a good detective, Sherlock!

2. Enjoy them: you're raising them to leave!
I realize I have had more natural thinking space, being space, breathing space and functioning space in the last 7 weeks than some of you have had in a lifetime. I'm pretty sure my capacity to enjoy my kids has increased because of this new found bumper. But even before all four kids went into brick and mortar, even when I had 4 kids 5 and under clawing at my ankles morning, noon and night; I fought HARD to enjoy my kids. Is it easy? NO WAY! I threatened to sell a child on ebay just last week. Is it a butt-load of meticulous work ironing out and directing our children down the road of becoming enjoyable humans? Um. Yes. It is a decision EVERYDAY to enjoy our kids, the stage they are in, and the season they are walking through. It is a decision EVERYDAY to choose enjoyment over annoyment. And believe you me, many, many days I have chosen annoyment over enjoyment. Thank goodness for forgiveness.

3. Hear them, and respond!
After wading through the minefield of rape, her sensitive heart gasped within her and she whispered, "that is one of the most awful things I've ever learned of!"

I didn't want to leave her mind clutched in the gear of fear. And so, I began to recount stories of so many men and women who are now standing on the other side of rape. Who, with all of their heart, testify that God redeems broken things; even rape.

Was this one of my favorite parenting moments? No, not exactly. But I wouldn't trade it for ANYTHING!

I tell this story today, with a fierce determination to call all parents to find your kids where they are, to enjoy them, because friends we might not have tomorrow, and to listen and respond to them. These are the precious moments building our homes as a museum of memories.

Now get out of here and go squeeze those babies!

Here's to finding them, enjoying them and hearing them!

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

A Page From My Heart: I Know What I'm Going To Do With My Life

Oh...heeeeyyyyyyy, all my precious readers.

Sweet, sweet, blogspot has not seen the likes of my writing fingers for FAR.TOO.LONG!

Forgive me.

Remember that time I put all four my kids in school and I thought I was going to have all this lavishly-scandalous free time to journal my world to you everyday? We were going to sip hot coffee for once in our lives and just share the dirty, dirt-dirt, eat Bon-Bon's and catch up on 12 years of "Young and the Restless?!" (Don't even act like you don't watch it...)


That's a mirage, and all the old women lied to me.
There is no pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

The work, cleaning, laundry, cooking, grocery shopping, administration requirements, bills, and business DOES NOT END, just because your house is void of peanut butter and jelly hands from 7-3. It's simply a mental trick looming in the balance.

Now I realize, all of my mamas in the trenches, all my of homeschooling-heroes, all of my rock star divas working full time, are spitting bananas at the screen, because I KNOW your soul would give gold to have the house empty from 7-3. I hear you! I remember! Here is the 1800 number to your local school district. CALL THEM! It's life changing. (It's a joke, *insert laugh*)

But really, the only thing that is different now is I get to pluck my eye brows in the bathroom instead of locked inside my mini-van, with the urchins hanging on the door handles because they can't be without me for 5 blessed minutes. No one would leave me alone that day, remember?

So now when my grown up children come back asking why their father and I scarred them by throwing them all in brick and mortar, I will tell them, "so I could pluck my eyebrows in peace. Deal.With.It!"

On a less sarcastic note, the last 6 weeks have been INSANELY good, stretching and different! A big dose of different. We are learning the new rhythm of our days and nights. Don't bother contacting me between 3-9, I'm in the triage unit of school debrief x4: HW/Softball/Cheerleading/Piano/Reading Clubs/Flag Football, oh and LIFE.

And during the day, thankfully, I am learning to dance with silence again and was glad to balance out the silence with a busy month of writing for Shattered Magazine.

In the few pockets of silence I have come upon, I've been talking with Jesus a lot about what is next for me. Mark and I decided back in the summer that I would not take on anything that I wasn't already committed to this semester. We really wanted to be careful not to fill all the silent moments out of panic or despair, but allow me the opportunity to sit here for a bit and trace out what life was really going to look like and how to BEST fill my available hours. The key word there is BEST.

We have explored plausible options like returning to school for a MFT degree, completing a certification with CCEF in biblical counseling or finally publishing my manuscript. And we've explored implausible options like becoming a political speech writer, because folks, WORDS MATTER. Opening a restaurant or a Kroger with the Skidmores, because we're tired of driving so far when we need REAL food and REAL drink. And my all time favorite option is... figuring out a way to get to hang out with my hubby all day long and solve all the world's problems. I mean.... how great would THAT be?!        

I have literally laid in my bed, closed my eyes and told the Lord when I opened my eyes, if He would be so kind to have written on the wall what He would like me to do next, I would be TOTALLY #allin. He and I giggled together.

I learned long ago to not rush the timing of God's plans in our stories. He is good, ALWAYS GOOD. And His ways are meticulous and divine, SO DIVINE. So I've waited with baited breath, trying to remain faithful in the areas I KNOW He has for me RIGHT NOW; being a tender wife, an intentional Mama, a supportive daughter, a visible sister, a constant friend and a writer of words. Those roles alone are a daily gift from God and they are enough.

Yesterday, I had one of those rare, quiet moments, asking the Lord once again what He had for me. I was sitting in my green, comfy chair with cold coffee and creamer, wearing holy yoga pants, hair in a bun, night glasses on and my bible and notes spread every where across the floor. And the Lord stirred my heart. He brought my attention to a passage I hadn't ever spent much time studying, but was packed full with specific truth for my heart.

Isaiah 1:5b & 6

The whole head is sick and the whole heart faint;
From the sole of the foot even to the head,
there is no soundness in it,
but bruises and sores, and raw wounds;
they are not pressed out or bound up or softened with oil.

This passage is describing the heart state of the Israelites and their estrangement from God.

I read and reread these words. I researched. I cross-referenced. I googled. I read endless commentaries. I let the words fall off my lips over and over again. I paced the doublewide speaking them out loud, and then whispering them like they were a secret, and then it hit me all at once.

THIS, THIS is what I want to do for the rest of my life!

If you haven't noticed yet, there is MUCH, MUCH pain in our world. If you haven't noticed yet, there is MUCH, MUCH sickness of mind and of heart in our VERY homes and neighborhoods. If you haven't noticed yet, there are so many, many people walking around with bruises, sores and raw wounds. Many covering them, masking them, running from them, hiding from them, denying them, numbing them, medicating them, and forgetting them. SO MANY souls unable to decipher, acknowledge or communicate the hurt oozing inside of them. It's paralyzing sometimes to see the sicknesses plaguing the human heart.

But this is when I started crying. This is when it all began to make sense.

Do you see the solution?
Do you see the kryptonite to this disaster?

Look closely in the final sentence.


YALL! This is what I want to do for the rest of my life with EVERY.SINGLE.PERSON I encounter.

I want to PRESS OUT their bruises-their sores-their wounds, NOT to inflict more pain, but to relieve it. To release the venom of lies pulsing through their bodies. I want to shed light on shame, and show freedom in the darkness. I MEAN.....COME ON, who doesn't need this?!

I want to be a conduit to BINDING UP the broken places in people's stories. Pointing them to the Healer, Redeemer, and True Physician.

And listen to this part, I cannot think of a more beautiful illustration of what the people of God are to be about RIGHT NOW. But THIS, this is it.....
SOFTENING the gashes of this world with the oil of a Risen Savior.


Can you tell I'm losing my junk over here?

I am not so naive to believe I have even an OUNCE in me to carry out this mission. NOT.ONE. But HE that is IN ME is greater than he that is in the world. I have FULL access to all that my God was, is and WILL BE. NOTHING. NO THING can separate from the Him and His unlimited power.

God didn't write His will for me on the walls of my bedroom, He wrote it on the walls of my heart! And even now as the tears stream down my face, I stand in awe.