Bracing for Impact

Teenagers.

We are coming in fast, and nothing can stop it. We have three teenagers in the house now. Well one is twelve, but will be in a few months and considers herself one.

We have a fifteen year old boy learning how to drive and twelve and thirteen year old girls in our newly blended family. It’s scary. I’m prayerful and it’s still scary. A new season.

We also have a mix of public and private schooling at our house. I’m blown away with what the public schoolers encounter at this age, and just as aware that the private schoolers will too, if they don’t already. It’s the world we live in.

Putting myself in their shoes has also got me thinking about how I was as a teenager…Not easy either. I couldn’t wait to go to college to get out of the house and have some “real freedom.”

I think about how much more trouble I would have gotten into if texting had been around then..

I remember my dad would pretty much only answer the phone if it rang after 9:00pm. And, that was to make sure boys and friends wouldn’t call the house after that time. If texting was an option, that wouldn’t have been an issue. I loved phone time. I remember talking for hours.

I remember getting caught on the phone in a lie. He happened to pick the phone up at the exact same time I did and heard stuff immediately that prevented him from hanging up. He caught me red handed. He asked me three times and I lied to his face three times. He already knew the truth, oh how that must have hurt his heart. The lying.

I’m going through this now. When our kid can look us straight in the face and lie, repeatedly, it kills us. And, we’ve probably all done it.

My dad’s punishment for that was swift and severe. He didn’t let me get my license when I turned sixteen and he sold the car I’d saved money up to buy the very next day. Severe. But, he knew me lying to his face was too. Righteous anger. And, I have some of that now too.

The video games drive me crazy, the constant secrecy of phones drives me crazy, the tablets annoy me, the staying up all hours drives me crazy, but I can’t help but think… “Would I be any different if I were raised in this age?”

My daughter has asked what I did all day when I was home for summer…I watched Price is Right, Let’s Make a Deal, and Young and the Restless with some movies thrown in. Same as them, except they watch YouTube and Netflix. I played Nintendo and they play graphic shooting games. The content is so much more risqué and/or violent than we had access too…Porn could be found, but not at the touch of a button. Google is wonderful, I use it almost every day. But, it’s made everything different. For better and for worse.

Summer downtime comes with summer boredom…Idle hands are the devil’s workshop. And, we’ve all fallen victim to them and to him. So, what’s a parent to do? Brace and embrace this season. Just like we did all the other ones…

So, as I write, by heart is racing and I’m bracing. But, still I will trust.

That our kids will lie and get caught and hide and also make us proud. That it will be hard, but that we will also have good times. That I will never know everything. That they will make good friends and not so good ones. That just because some friends or our own kids may lead to trouble now, doesn’t mean they always will.

Turns out the boy I got in trouble with is a preacher now. Every kid we encounter on our kids journeys are on their own too.

I will also trust that God’s grace will sustain us and that He will walk alongside us in this season too. May they come out of it knowing that no matter what get’s taken away (be it phones, games, tablets, or trips) that they are loved. And may we, as parents, model how much they have to gain when we lean on Jesus to get us through the hard stuff.

I don’t think it will be pretty, neither was having an infant. I don’t think it will be relaxing, neither was having a toddler. I don’t think it will be easy, neither is having a middle schooler. But, I believe it will be possible. Because, with Christ, He promises all things are. (Matthew 19:26)

And, I know seasons will change….because they always have.

 

 

 

 

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It’s Not “Supposed” to Be This Way..

I write a lot about the difficulties of divorce. So many get them without considering the consequences. Some know full well and some are clueless. As a child of it and an adult who went through it, I want to clue some of you in.

Some sign in tears gasping for breath and some easily and nonchalantly sign papers. Some spend their retirement fighting for custody and some need a push accepting the inevitable. Some hire detectives and some throw parties. Some wake up and some shut down. Because people grieve differently and some don’t grieve at all, they are each different.

No matter what, it’s an epidemic that needs attention. Divorce causes confusion about how marriage was intended from the beginning and not only the pain of separation for the one left behind, but separation from our children. It’s not supposed to be this way…

Divorce is a life event never to be celebrated in my book. It has caused me so much pain over my lifetime, that it must be my calling. It hurts my heart for every child and adult that encounters it. It’s not supposed to be this way…

My prayer is that these articles comfort those who have been or are going through similar situations and that they warn others. That couples think twice, three times, four times, that they do the work needed, that they consider their examples, that they communicate, and get healthy…together. Because families are torn apart and it’s not supposed to be this way.

That they don’t just stay together for the kids. And never, if it’s abusive or unfaithful without repentance, but to show kids and others what marriage is “supposed” to be. Not easy, but strong. A union of two sinners who have to learn to forgive and how to be forgiven. A testimony to grace.

Once we “get over” the separation of the person we vowed that we never would (whole other article), the separation from our children is brutal.

I’m about to embark on my first month away from my girls and my heart just aches. One week away at camp pales in comparison to a month away. It’s not supposed to be this way..

I know divorced moms do this all the time. I also know it’s hard for them all. I know some travel, some rest, some work more, and some just sulk. I plan to do all of the above. I need to….

The ache in my heart reminds me that Jesus can feel it too. It reminds me of how it was the separation from His Father on the cross that killed him. It wasn’t the physical pain, it was THAT pain that He cried out over. “Father, why have you forsaken Me?”

Sin separates us from our Father. He took on ALL of our sin so that we would never feel the separation that He did. This separation needed to happen in order for us to never be separated again.  And, it killed Him. He knows the pain. It broke his heart. And, still does.

Let us keep looking to Jesus. He is the one who started this journey of faith. And he is the one who completes the journey of faith. He paid no attention to the shame of the cross. He suffered there because of the joy he was looking forward to. Then he sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:2 (NIRV)

Do you know that this “JOY” He looked forward to as He was beaten, nailed to a cross, and separated from His Father for absolutely nothing He did Himself was being with us forever! That outcome was worth all the pain He endured. Oh, how He yearns for that day too. He must after what He was willing to do in order for it to happen.

Even though I was the one who filed for divorce, I’ve always stood by the fact that it wasn’t my choice. I was the only one to show up to court. My dad went with me. He walked me down both aisles. I know his heart was breaking too. He’d already been through his own painful divorce. The man who paid for our wedding was now paying for our divorce and propping me up because he knew it needed to happen. It’s not supposed to be this way.

I wanted it to be different. I wanted to stay married. I wanted to get through it, stronger, closer, changed, better. That would have been my choice. But, it takes two to want that. Three with Jesus.

I also get the pain that dads feel separated from their kids. I get it. I’m married to one who misses his. While mine will be gone, we’re happy to have his kids for a month. But, we both know that they have a mama who will be missing them too. We both agree that it’s not supposed to be this way. Kids shouldn’t have to pick or miss the other parents. We didn’t bring them into the world to share them. Neither of us.

We both KNOW why God hates divorce.

Whether it’s camp, college, custody, distance, or death, may the Lord comfort us in our separation and may it be a blatant reminder of how much He hates separation too. Enough to die for it. May He fill in the gaps as only He can.

Last night all I wanted to do was spend time with my girls. They were both caught up with their friends and games. They don’t understand. But, my husband (who does) sent them to spend time with me. He knows the hurt and that time is always ticking….He knows because his time ticks too.

Next month, I’ll lean on him and the people God sends who will listen, care, and accompany me. And, may all of you other separated parents do the same.

Because, it’s not supposed to be this way…..And, because of the separation Jesus endured, one sweet day it won’t be.

What About Saturday?

This title has been bouncing around in my mind since Easter weekend…So much talk and significance about Good Friday and Easter morning, but what about that Saturday? Then, at church last weekend, our pastor reiterated this phrase. Time to write. And, it just happens to be a rainy Saturday morning…

That weekend, the weekend Jesus was betrayed, beaten, laughed at, and nailed to a cross. That weekend.

That Friday, I can only imagine. The confusion, the pain, the despair, the unbelief, that his disciples and mother felt. I can only imagine. Even though He told them over and over again what would happen. Even though He cried out for any other way. Even though He went through with it. Even though He knew it would happen. Even though…I can’t imagine the overwhelming darkness of that day for those who loved Him.

That Sunday, I can only imagine. The surprise, the excitement, the elation, the relief, the unbelief that the Marys must have felt seeing that tomb empty. Seeing that stone rolled away. Seeing Him dead before their eyes two days before and then seeing Him risen, hearing Him speak, and bolting back to tell His friends and disciples….I can only imagine the thrill of that day to those who loved Him.

What about the day between? What about the day that they were all processing what just happened? He was there, healthy and alive, and then beaten and killed. Gone. The shock was there, the grief was taking hold, the despair was still setting in. It felt over.

Just like it does for us when something awful happens. Someone was here today and gone tomorrow. The pink slip comes in and the bills are due. The diagnosis you never expected. The betrayal you didn’t see coming. The truth comes out. That day.

What about the day after? When nothing has changed. That was Saturday. All they knew was that nothing had changed. Only the difficulty of accepting something they didn’t want to accept.

Help us, Lord. Where are you, Lord? How could you allow this, Lord? That day. Saturday was more hurt, more despair, more darkness. They didn’t know what would happen Sunday morning. They didn’t know…

One thing I find comforting about that Saturday and I hope we can grasp onto in our own lives is that Jesus was sleeping and feeling no pain that day. He was resting in His Father’s will. He cried out that it wasn’t His will, but had accepted that it was and was resting in that. His pain had subsided. He was resting while the rest were hurting. May we find some rest in our Father’s love the day after, the week after, the life after…

Because when we find our rest in Jesus (like He rested that particular Saturday) we WILL see Him again. We will see our loved ones, we will have complete healing of that illness, that injury, that loss, that hurt. Our bodies and hearts will be made whole again. Our hearts will leap with an everlasting joy and relief.

That day is coming. Our “Sunday” is coming. We will be with Him forever. And being with Him is the heaven we have all cried out for. No more sad tears, no more emotional or physical pain. No more death. No more loss.

May we rest in our “Saturdays”, the days after…that we are all currently in until our Sunday arrives.

He thought of you that Friday, and that hasn’t changed.

He died for you. He rose for you. That despair and victory was for you, and that hasn’t changed.

May we rest in that (like He did that Saturday). His rest and relief from pain the day after makes Saturday pretty significant too.

Today, the rain is falling outside. I have questions. I have concerns. But, I also have Jesus. So, I will rest in them all. I’m writing on a literal Saturday. But, we are all in our figurative ones.

The answers will come, the truth will come out. It always does. And so does He. He is bigger and stronger than them all. He proved that.

May we rest in Him, like He did, on all of our Saturdays (next days) too.

 

 

The Best and Worst of Times..

To say the last seven years have been hard would be an understatement. There were times I thought it would kill me or admit me. But God…

He sustained me.

This morning, I’m sitting in my new office in our new house. The space I set up to write. My loving husband asleep upstairs (there were times I never knew if I would be able to write those words). Our kids asleep. Our dogs asleep. Home. A beautiful new home (there were times I never thought I’d write those words).

I knew I wanted them all (a loving husband, a new home, a book)..but THE PROCESS of each one seemed insurmountable.

I’ve received all three of these in three months. To say the last three months have been a whirlwind would be an understatement. But, God…

He will steady me.

I didn’t just want a husband, I wanted a faithful, loving, God-fearing one who lived here and loved me enough to commit and to wait. At fourty years old. And, I would have waited until eighty if I’d had to. I knew I’d only have peace with a man like I’d want for my own daughters one day…

I wanted a new house that gave us more room, but I wanted a very similar location. Just more room. We hoped to move this summer, but when we listed our house last month, we had an offer and signed contract in ten hours. Our pictures hadn’t even been uploaded yet! This was happening so much sooner than we’d planned. One month after getting married and we were packing up. Time to find the new place…

Done. And less than a mile away. I look around and still can’t believe it’s mine.

I was a single mom for seven years. My girls were one and five, too young to realize what was going on, too young to understand, too young to have a clue what was happening or how hurt I was by it all.

At the time, I thought how unfair that was on top of everything else. I didn’t want any of it. And, I sure didn’t want to share them, they were still literally my babies. One in diapers, the other in pull ups.

For five of those years, I bled all over my keyboard. As God would speak to my heart, I would write. I would hope the words would one day somehow touch others. I would wait for the next topic and look for His lessons in each and every heartache. In the midst of the pain and loneliness and stress and confusion and grief. I would listen and ask what I needed to know. And, still do.

I can’t clearly express the pain I’ve experienced, I’m sure there are many of you reading this who can’t either. Pain can’t be put into words, it’s felt in the heart. But, so is God.

Our words could never do Him justice, but still we write and praise and sing.

He may have spoken light and animals and plants into existence. But, He BREATHED us to life. So, with every breath, may I return my gratitude for His mercy, His faithfulness, His presence, His forgiveness, His desires in my heart.

With every breath, may I thank Him for not only what I have now, but for the past seven years of what felt like my desert. Because, it was in those seven years, that He was not only my Savior, but my husband, our provider, my sustainer. He is the giver of every single good gift that we have and there are many.

Even in pain, He gives. And, what I needed the most in my whole life was Him. He revealed Himself to me in that pain. So, I thank Him for it!

My husband with a heart for Him wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for those seven years. This house wouldn’t be ours if He hadn’t sold ours when He did. My book wouldn’t be written, much less published, if I hadn’t experienced that pain with Him. He called me to write long ago, but I didn’t have the content.

To Him be the glory of it all.

“I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten—the great locust and the young locust,
the other locusts and the locust swarm—my great army that I sent among you. You will have plenty to eat, until you are full, and you will praise the name of the Lord your God, who has worked wonders for you; never again will my people be shamed.”
Joel 2:25-26 (NIV)

 

 

I’m Just Your Mom..

This title keeps bouncing around in my mind. Time to write…

It came to me when I was driving my oldest daughter to school a couple weeks ago. It was cold and she was leaving on a class trip that morning. Coldest weekend so far this year and she was leaving for a class trip a few hours away.

All she wanted to take to fend off the cold was a sweatshirt. She told me over and over again that’s all she’d wear. Still, I insisted she bring a coat, my ski coat, because it was the warmest one in the house. I told her she’d be thankful for it, that she’d want it.

She didn’t agree.

So much so, I was pretty sure it would get left behind somewhere. In a car, at the hotel, at the school. She didn’t want it. It was cold, wet, and getting colder.

I could send the coat, but I couldn’t make her wear it. I couldn’t make her remember it. I couldn’t make her want it. As hard as it would be to force her to wear it even if I were physically with her, I wouldn’t be. So, I had no control over whether she would wear it or not. Just make it available and hope that she’d not only wear it, but actually bring it home.

Makes me think of how we, as moms, love our kids like no other. We have a lot of “power” when it comes to where we let our kids physically go when they are young. But, we can’t control everything and we can’t make all their choices for them. So much is out of our hands. We may “control” some of their activities, but we can’t control their hearts or minds. We only have so much. The love is infinite, but the control is minute.

As much as I hope she learns from my mistakes, forgives me for them, and chooses Jesus for herself, I can’t make her. Only pray and hope that she does and brings Him to her home one day.

All this from how little control I had over whether she wore the coat I sent or not.

Her life’s path is different from mine. God has a specific purpose in mind for her. My prayer is she follows IT. Him. And, that takes a lot of trust in her and Him from me.

We can take our kids to school and put friends in front of them, but we can’t make them choose them for themselves. We can allow phones or not, but we can’t control their friends devices. We can take them to church or not, but we can’t control their desire for  God.  We can make them food, but we can’t pick their food when they are away from us or make them like certain things. So much is theirs to control. So much more than I ever knew prior.

We can make them say they are sorry, but we can’t make them mean it or truly forgive. We can’t make them stay faithful or pick their spouse. We can’t control their spouses hearts or actions either.

I can send a coat, but I can’t make you wear it.

I can’t make you value yourself. Just hope and pray you do. I can’t put Jesus in your heart. Only pray you do.

I hope, as scary as this may sound to us moms, that it also helps us relieve the coat of all the pressure. There’s a lot we can do for our kids. But, so much that we can’t and is God’s job.

All I can do is the best I can at all of the above with God’s help, pray some of it rubs off,  and that the bad stuff falls away by His grace alone.

I heard after the trip that she not only wore the coat, but was so thankful she had it. Made me smile and strengthened my resolve that I sent it regardless of her resistance. I high fived myself in my mind. Go, Mom!

I gave birth to you and carried you, but He formed you and gives you life to this day.

I can wear my coat and hope you do too. But, I can’t control your heart. Only keep turning it over.

After all, He’s your Savior. I’m just your mom.

Hanging by a Thread

We all have those times when we feel like we are hanging by a thread.

It could be in line at the grocery story, on the phone with customer service, looking for a parking space, running behind at work, paying bills, or on vacation for goodness sake!

Today is one of those days for me.

Hanging by a thread is the equivalent of “Don’t mess with me, I’m about to snap.” Who hasn’t been there?

That’s what grace is for. We are all human. You know the look, the sense, the time to back away….and hopefully we do.

May we grab a hold of the Lord’s unwavering presence in our life. May we know that even when He feels far away or like He’s turned His back on what’s going on, that His eyes still see and His heart still aches.

He longs to take us home. He died so that He could do just that. So, when we are hanging on by a thread, may we find our security in that. That His love will bring us home. Our love for Him pales in comparison to His love for us. He is bigger than whatever this is and we can’t out love Him.

May we not only hang on that, but rest in it too.