When Taking is Giving

Contemplating my day yesterday and an interesting parallel came to mind…Let’s do a run down of my Sunday. This is one day in the life of what many of you can relate to.

  • Take clothes out of dryer
  • Take dog to groomer
  • Take kids to breakfast
  • Take car to car wash
  • Take care of flowerbeds
  • Take girls to play with cousins
  • Take ice to baby shower
  • Take kids to Vacation Bible School
  • Take trash to curb
  • Take kids to bed

As parents, it’s in the taking care of things and people that we give. Taking is giving. The giving of ourselves, our finances, our time and energy, our lives. We can’t do it all, but man, don’t we try? I think we’d all take our kids on more vacations if we could afford it. Vacations with kids can feel like anything but, but taking is also making memories that will last a lifetime for all of you. I want the memories as much as my kids do. Sometimes we need to take and sometimes we WANT to take. As a parent, it’s all giving.

Taking our kids to school and taking ourselves to work. Taking our kids to church, dance, softball practice, birthday parties, the doctor, the dentist, camp, the grocery store. Not easy, but still fills our hearts in a way we can’t describe. Because they are ours. Because of our love. Taking is giving.

It’s tiring, it feels never ending, and it’s so precious. It’s in these days of taking that we need to remember what a blessed assignment it is. I’m well aware these days don’t last forever.

It’s not until they become parents one day, that they will also recognize the incessant giving that taking requires. I hope this helps you. When you’ve taken (given) all you can, fuel up on the fact that you were given these children to take places and the ultimate blessing to them and to you that it is. It may not feel appreciated, but I applaud you and one day they will “get it” too.

Think of the gift that taking on someone else’s kids is. I recognize this even more as a single mom. Parenting is hard. Step parenting is ginormous. No one has to. They choose to. And, it may feel even less appreciated by all involved. Still, you take. Give and take.

Being with someone who is all “take, take, take” is frowned upon in relationships. We’d all rather be with a giver. But, with kids, we take, take, take everywhere. With all the taking required in parenting, we also need to remember to take care of ourselves. If married, it’s the same. Taking your wife on a date, taking out the trash, and taking the kids or grandkids out for snow cones are all giving. Yay for the takers, because they are the givers!

I’m so thankful for family that helps me with the taking in any way, shape, or form. I appreciate their giving and recognize it as such. I realize when we love, it’s what we do. It’s how we give. We load up and take.

Once they are driving, there will be less taking. But, oh how sweet to hear those words..”Mom, can you take me….” at that point. It won’t be necessary, it will be wanted. And, I’ll do everything in my power to jump all over it. Oh, how we love…

 

 

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When Something’s Gotta Go..

I’ve been in what feels like one of the most overwhelming times of my life. Some I can share with, others I can not. I know who to safely unload with and who would rather not hear it any more. Do you have those people? The ones who get a glazed over look in their eyes, like “here we go again”. Stop with those people. Love, but don’t share. They are done with hearing it.

Take it to God, find a good friend who never gets tired of you. Unload and reboot. When schedules are crazy, relationships are strained, kids are going back and forth, and work pressure is on, something’s gotta give…

I had one friend remind me that anxiety gets the best of us when we are taking on too much in advance. The “what ifs”?? “What about whens”? I have them. And, I was wisely reminded to take this day, our daily bread. One day at a time. We can’t change the past or “fix” the future, only live in this day. So, that’s where I’m starting. With today.

Today, I miss my girls. I already feel like I miss half their lives being a working and divorced mom, but last week my oldest was away at school and I haven’t seen her since. I cherish my time with them, yet when I get them back, they are tired, grouchy, hungry, annoyed with each other. Sounds like a pleasant time, huh? Still…I miss them.

When the pressure cooker of life is whistling like a freight train, we can’t throw our hands up and quit. Even “quitting” won’t fix certain things. For me, what’s gotta go is my concern of what others think of me. Add that like a cherry on top of our already stressful lives, and it’s bound to come tumbling down. Or I am, in a heap.

So, that’s what the Lord is leading me to today. “Take it out of the equation, Darla, because that’s the ingredient that will do you in.” Just like everything else He’s asked of me, I cannot do it on my own, He’s gonna have to help me. And, because I know He’s a loving Father, I will depend on Him to. I have reached my limit Lord, take it from me.

Something’s gotta go..

 

Faith of a Child…

Last night I was feeling crummy, really all day. I worked all day, picked up my girls and let them know early on that dinner would be easy and I needed to go to bed early. Allergies, exhaustion, pre-flu, I wasn’t sure, I just knew I wasn’t myself.

They were helpful and understanding. It was the second time that I can ever remember going to bed before them. They are 11 and 6 and I left them on the couch, blew a kiss, closed my door and went to sleep. Having no idea if they would sleep there all night, brush their teeth, change their clothes, anything. I decided they would survive, no matter what, and crashed.

I woke up at 5am feeling much better and stumbled out to the living room to see what the sleeping arrangements ended up being. I found neither one on the couch, but both of them asleep in my oldest’s bed, PJs on, sound asleep, their heads at opposite ends of the bed. Warmed my heart so…

When they woke, I shared how much better I was feeling, completely unsurprised and unphased, my oldest said “Well, we prayed for you, so….” Like there was no other option except for Mom to feel better this morning. Thank you, Lord, for her faith and Your answer to that prayer. We all know it could have gone either way and does often.

Not only did they change their clothes, they brushed their teeth (I could tell by the leftover toothpaste in the sink), she said they also read a book and prayed before bed. Like I always do with them. With me completely dead to the world, my girls connected and shared their typical bedtime routine. And prayed for Mama! All the feels this morning…Lord, I thank you.

Sometimes His answer is “Yes”, sometimes it is “No”. Sometimes it’s “Not Yet”, but He is always faithful. He loves us and hears us. Garth Brooks has a song that says “Sometimes I thank God for unanswered prayers” when he runs into an ex girlfriend after years with his current wife. Truth is, God answered that prayer. His answer was “No”. A no from a loving God is a blessing that we can only see in hindsight and may never understand this side of heaven. Most of our prayers that receive a “No” feel like rejection at the time. But, lean on the truth that God loves you. Lean towards Him rather than away and trust His answers in your life.

Seeing how my girls took care of themselves and each other last night made me proud. Hearing they prayed for me last night was humbling. Seeing and feeling it answered encourages my faith. Thank you, Lord, for Your faithfulness! And for my precious girls that prayed for me without me last night, together. ❤

Supper Club

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I read a book recently by Jen Hatmaker called “For the Love”. In it, she talks about how getting together face to face gets harder and harder as we all get married, raise kids, separate, reconnect….just life. But, it’s important. So, her idea was to start a Supper Club. In her book, they get babysitters and make fancy food. Each home would rotate the sole responsibility of hosting and the others could just come and enjoy. I, on the other hand,  thought it would be a great idea to set up a “Supper Club with Kids”. A few friends with kids of similar ages. A few friends who would like to connect without struggling to find a sitter. Oh, and everyone bring something! So, I planned.

There are few things I enjoy more than hosting friends. The kids were excited and so was I. I was energized and all smiles buying groceries, practically skipping down the aisles at the store, picking out ingredients for new hamburger and black bean burger recipes. I straightened up the house and had the music up loud anticipating my house FULL of friends and their beloved littles. My “master plan” was that the kids would entertain themselves while us grown-ups could talk and play games.

By 6:30, I had 13 kids and 8 adults at my house. Within the first hour, we had a hair catastrophe that led to 2 hours of trying to untangle, a clogged toilet, a rug that was ruined by nail polish, a teething toddler in tears, a broken scooter, and a broken toy golf club.

To quote Will Smith in Hitch, “I saw that going differently in my mind”, nailed it.

I went to bed frustrated and sad that my plan had been thwarted. But, I woke up thankful for grace. Thankful that we can see now more than ever that we are all in this parenting thing together. That even when our big plans turn into pipe dreams, there is love and understanding and togetherness. Even if our togetherness just increases our sympathy for one another, the togetherness is worth it. With all that, do you know what the kids said first thing this morning? “When can we do that again? That was so fun!” Of course, they did.

One of our dear friends and mentors was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer recently. The news broke yesterday. We all discussed it last night and feel heartbroken for her and her family. She’s much too young and loved and respected and….there is just no good explanation. As is so true for way too many heartaches in this world. The sad news breaking made me even more grateful to be getting together with friends. You really do never know what will happen tomorrow. Who it will happen to. Or, when your own time on this earth is up.

So….let’s love today. Let’s laugh when we can. Let’s get together when we can. Let’s engage in each other’s lives. Let’s welcome new people. Let’s reconnect with old friends. Let’s encourage each other as parents. It makes me even more eager for the “Ultimate Supper Club” in heaven. Where there will be no more sad news, tangled hair, painful gums, broken toys, or plumbing issues whatsoever. Just the joy and relief of togetherness. Forever.

Easier Said Than Done

walk

Growing in my walk with God has been an experience I wouldn’t trade for anything, even what I’ve been through to get here. It was worth it. Feeling His presence in my deepest pain has led to my desire to feel and listen to Him more. I long to hear His voice and I want to obey because of His love for me. I’ve learned so much about who I used to be, who I’ve always been, who I am to Him, and where He wants to take me. I’ve also learned how hard the Christian walk is to walk in this world.

I get now why it’s easier to say you’re a Christian, but not live like one. Because, I did…for years. I get now why it takes supernatural and divine power to stand up, speak up, and walk daily with Him. His way is HARD for us. His way doesn’t come naturally in our selfish human flesh. Once we’re open to Him and His love for us, He takes our hands and leads us out of sin by convicting us and staying on us until we see and choose His way for ourselves. Even with His help, we will never be sinless in this world, but by His grace it is possible to sin less. His way leads to lasting peace and joy. Once our eyes have been opened, we see how the world’s way leads to quick satisfaction, but is followed by regret.

I’d rather my girls choose lasting peace and joy. Not a quick fix, whether it be acting on revenge, hatred, jealousy, or lust. If I’d rather them choose His way, the best example would be for me to as well. I want that lasting peace and joy too. So, here goes…..a list of things easier said than done, but lead to lasting peace and joy, in the Christian walk.

  • Holding my tongue in anger
  • Letting the last word be God’s
  • Not lashing out at my loved ones
  • Having the courage to address issues with loved ones in a reconciliatory manner that leads to healing on both sides
  • Denying the flesh while single (especially after being married 10 years!)
  • Forgiveness
  • Choosing to love even when it’s not openly returned
  • Daily quiet and prayer times
  • Waiting on God
  • Stepping out in faith
  • Fighting the paralyzing fear of people’s opinions
  • Just doing what God wants me to do….the quicker the better!

These are a few things that come to mind that are very hard for me, but I feel called to do. They also never crossed my mind in my teens and 20s. I guess my relationship with God, marriage, divorce, and two daughters have brought me to a place where I’ve never been before. And, since this is all new to me, I’m more dependent than ever on God to lead me through it. Because…I sure don’t know how to do this! I just know He’s brought me here, so I’d better trust Him to help me. I could never do these things on my own.

I know I’ll need major help, where does my help come from?

My help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth. Psalms 121:1

I know I’ll need major strength, where does my strength come from?

The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me. Psalms 28:7a

I know I’ll need supportive friends. Thank God for the ones I have and the ones I’ve made. They are gifts! Where do these friends come from?

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. James 1:17

Sharing my walk in this format has been a huge personal step of faith and has forced me to face fear every single time I write and share. He has promised to teach me healthy love and asked me to share what I learn in return. That’s the least I could do for the lessons He’s teaching me! But still, He knows how much it scares me…..so He continues to lovingly nudge.

Blessing others in this process has been the biggest blessing of all. Words can’t express my gratefulness for your love, support, and encouragement! You have helped more than you could ever know. There are no sufficient words, only love and gratitude from my heart to yours.

Let’s continue to walk together….

 

 

What I’ve Learned From My Kids…

motherhood

Here are a few things I’ve learned from my kids thus far. My girls are only 8 & 3, so I know I have a lot more learning to do and milestones to reach….Even so, these lessons have been astounding and life altering.

  • I wasn’t as “ready” for kids as I thought I was (no one is)
  • Patience is NOT my greatest virtue
  • The sweetest sound to my ears is “I love you Mommy”
  • Picking the girls up after work and putting them to bed are two of my favorite times
  • Going to the main church service with kids is important but “feels” pointless while you’re there….keep going.
  • I learn how I want to be treated when I think about how I want them to be treated
  • Every child is different
  • There is no “perfect’ way to feed, sleep train, or discipline your child, although they are all necessary
  • A kid’s memory is surprisingly accurate
  • Daycare is expensive!
  • Kids will listen to, watch, and read a favorite song, movie, or book over and over and over and over and over and…
  • Parenting will drive you to your knees, and that’s a good thing.
  • You can’t control everything.
  • Parenting should keep us very humble.
  • I wouldn’t trade it for the world

My girls are lovers, fighters, givers, takers, whiners, gamers, laughers, criers, cuddlers, and the best part is that they are mine! (So that all makes sense). Let the love and lessons continue….

Do the Hard Thing.

hard thing

When I got married, my dream was to stay married. I know that’s the shared dream for the majority of us when we marry, but my dream of a lasting marriage may have been for different reasons than some. I wanted to know that marriage really could last forever. I needed to prove it to myself. I was very much pro-marriage and still am. 

My parents divorced when I was in the 8th grade and it was hard. Divorce is hard on everyone. I’ve heard that research has shown that kids from divorce tend to divorce more often because they see it as an option. I was the opposite. I felt like my parents’ divorce fueled me to stay together come hell or high water……no matter what. I was in it for the long haul. The last thing on earth I wanted to go through or put my kids through was a divorce. I’d lived it and I knew the difficulties and pain involved.

I wanted a happy, healthy, and whole family for my husband, kids, and myself. Our marriage wasn’t happy, healthy, or whole because the people in it were not healthy or whole to begin with. I wanted so desperately to break the cycle of divorce that I displayed and permitted behavior that shouldn’t be accepted as normal in a healthy marriage. The example we were modeling for our children was neither healthy nor happy. It was quite the opposite. The marriage disintegrated while I prayed consistently for it to be restored. I poured my heart out to God over and over again pleading with Him to step in and save the marriage for the sake of our children and my dream to just stay together. Instead, the divorce happened. Looking back now, I know it needed to.

The reality of divorce has been the hardest thing I’ve ever gone through thus far in my life. Now, in the aftermath, it’s still hard. It’s hard because of too many reasons to list. It’s hard because the girls have another woman in their lives now. It’s hard because they go back and forth between homes. It’s hard because we don’t have the same rules at my house as he does at his house. It’s hard because our priorities are different. It’s just hard and I know as a child of divorce that it always will be.  It will take a daily surrender and annointing of grace, mercy, and forgiveness to prevent the devil’s stronghold of anger, bitterness, and resentment to fester. I know now more than ever that I need a daily dose of Jesus every single day for my children and myself.

Over the past couple weeks, I’ve felt God tell me that He wants me to do the hard thing again. And that is to forgive and extend mercy to all involved. Forgive for the love of God and for the love of my children. When we have “every right” to be bitter and wish the worst, God asks us to do the hard thing. I know I can’t do it on my own, my flesh is entirely too weak. But, I’d rather forgive than suffer. I’d rather forgive than let the magnitude of what happened affect what will happen in mine or my children’s lives. I am willing to do the hard thing. But, I can’t do it on my own. He’s going to have to prop me up and do it with me.

I have no doubt God could have saved our marriage, but He chose not to. That wasn’t a part of His plan. I do know His plans for me are good. I do know He wants me to forgive and continue to love. I do know He wants me to live an abundant and joyful life.  To live the life He desires me to live, I believe I will have to once again do the hard thing. I believe that forgiveness equals freedom and I also believe He loves me enough to help me do it because He has forgiven me.